Meriden finance committee authorizes talks with Covanta

Meriden finance committee authorizes talks with Covanta


Five municipalities under contract to send trash to the Covanta Energy plant, seen here on South Cherry Street in Wallingford, have declined Covanta’s offer to instead send trash to its Bristol location. | File photo, Record-Journal

MERIDEN — The City Council finance committee voted Tuesday to allow City Manager Guy Scaife to negotiate a new agreement with Covanta to send Meriden’s trash to Bristol rather than Wallingford, a deal Scaife said will mean “significant savings.”

The move comes amid fears Covanta’s Wallingford transfer station could close, forcing the city to take waste to Bristol anyway, without the savings.

Meriden, Wallingford, North Haven, Cheshire and Hamden contracted with Covanta Projects of Wallingford in 2008 to burn municipal solid waste. In 2015, the agreement with Covanta was amended to change the Wallingford facility to a transfer station.

Covanta is now proposing that towns take their waste directly to Bristol and is offering incentives, such as competitive tip fees and community outreach grants.

Scaife said Covanta was approached by an abutting property owner in Wallingford hoping to purchase the transfer station site.

“They had been thinking of closing that facility because it was just at the edge of the volume where they are contractually obligated to stay open,” Scaife said. “With the current contract, we are very close to a volume level where they could give us six months’ notice and close down. They wanted to take advantage of this sale opportunity for the property and leverage space they had in Bristol.

Sending waste directly to Bristol would save the city about $66,000 a year beginning in July 2018, based on the incentives Covanta has offered. Scaife said it is likely Wallingford and Cheshire will also take the deal.

“There is an incentive on the table for us to do this now,” Scaife said. “Our fear is that any event — either a town pulled out of the collective, volume drops below a certain threshold — they have the immediate right to give us six months’ notice that they are closing the facility. There is a reasonable chance that we will be required to move to Bristol anyway and we will have walked away from the $66,000 in savings and they would not have any reason to negotiate long-term reasonable rates.”

The finance committee chairman, Miguel Castro, was in favor of changing the agreement.

“It’s favorable to the city and there’s some significant savings moving forward,” he said. 203-317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

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