CHITTENDEN COUNTY — Chittenden County residents will need to request an extra ballot for the November general election to vote on a bond for the Chittenden Solid Waste District’s potential new facility.
If approved, the $22 million bond will pay for a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and will have no effect on taxpayers. Instead, the bond will be paid back through operating revenues which include sale of recyclables, and fees charged to haulers to drop off recyclables for processing at the MRF.
CSWD currently estimates a payback period of 25 years for the bond. To be approved, the bond must receive 50% +1 votes in favor of it, meaning if only three people in the county vote and the bond receives two “yes” votes, it will pass.
CSWD plans to adhere to the following timeline if the bond is approved:
The current MRF, built in 1993, is at full capacity and cannot expand. As of now CSWD is storing materials outside due to the lack of space, which is not best practice, according to Sarah Reeves, director of CSWD.
There are a few pieces of equipment CSWD plans to bring to the new facility such as the bailor, which makes cubes of recycling materials.
“But everything else will be new, everything else will be up to, not just today’s standards but the standards that were replaced fifteen years ago, we are that far behind,” Reeves said to the Essex selectboard during a Sept. 12 meeting.
The proposed new facility will be able to process 140 million pounds of recyclables each year, 40% more than the current MRF.
The new facility will be equipped with more modern technology, a huge upgrade from the hand sorting currently done at the existing MRF. The new technology will not cause job losses, instead, current employees will focus on quality control.
“It becomes a much less taxing job, the building will be taller, airier, brighter and will just be a better environment,” Reeves said.
The bond is considered a special election by the Vermont Secretary of State's office, according to Reeves, so it will not be included on the general election ballot.
To vote on the MRF bond, Chittenden County residents can request a mail-in ballot from their town clerk or from Vermont’s My Voter Page. Voters can also cast their ballot for the MRF in person at their local Chittenden County voting location.
Chittenden County voters should not confuse CSWD’s bond with Champlain Water Districts (CWD)’s bond, the voting for which has already closed.