CT towns must decide to can or keep trash disposal contract before prices jump

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — There is a mounting trash crisis in Connecticut. Towns around the state are being told the cost to get rid of their trash is going to more than double if something isn’t done by summer.

The Materials Innovation Recycling Authority (MIRA) plant in Hartford serves more than 50 towns from North Branford to Salisbury — about one-third of the state.

In 2019, the facility broke down twice, causing huge trash backups. This week the president of the quasi-public agency revealed a long term plan to municipal leaders in its membership.

The 30-year $330 million proposal is supposed to upgrade the facility, allowing it to operate for decades to come. However, it comes with a massive price tag.

Hartford resident Devon McMahon said he is grateful that his trash gets picked up, but said news the cost may skyrocket is painful to hear. 

“No, I don’t like that if it goes up,” McMahon said. “We already pay big taxes. We don’t need to pay more big taxes.”

MIRA’s President, Tom Kirk, said the facility is old, tired, and in need of substantial capital improvement to continue to operate.

Kirk added that unless the state can subsidize the investment with energy credits, bonding, or a power purchase agreement, towns could see a considerable increase in price per ton.

The current $81 per ton could increase to $95 per ton with a state subsidy or as much $145 per ton without one.

Member towns told News 8 that means taxes will go up, and they are being held over a barrel unless the state steps in to make a change. 

“We’ll take a look at it, but as you know, everybody is asking for bonding money from the state, and I would like to do this as part of a public, private partnership so we can minimize the cost to the taxpayers,” Governor Ned Lamont said.

If the state can’t help, Kirk told News 8 “getting the Hartford plant to last for seven more years [until the end of the current contract] will be difficult.”

By February 2020, the member towns have to decide if they are sticking with the current MIRA contract until it runs out and looking for cheaper alternatives, or if they are going to hold out for the state.

Residents can check online to find out if their town gets rid of trash at the MIRA facility.

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