Business, Local Government and Politics

Saugus Selectmen opt not to vote on revised WIN agreement

This article was published 8 months ago.

WIN Waste Innovations' facility on the Salem Turnpike in Saugus. (Item file photo)

SAUGUS — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday evening opted not to vote on a revised Host Community Agreement with WIN Waste Innovations that allows the company to continue operating its ash landfill in exchange for offering the town free tipping and a lump sum payment of $1 million, pending more detail from the company regarding a contingency clause they sought to re-insert to the agreement.

The clause allows WIN to reduce the amount of money given to the town if the company is forced to spend more than $5 million to secure the necessary permits to expand the fill due to regulatory requirements. Board member Jeff Cicolini removed the contingency when the board approved an amended agreement in September.

Under the terms of the revised agreement, should WIN exceed the $5 million limit, the company would pay the town $2.50 per ton for waste disposal, as opposed to the free tipping offered in the event the permitting process costs less than $5 million.

WIN Vice President for Environmental Compliance Jim Connolly told the Board that the payment would be applied to the 110,000 tons of ash the facility processes each year, meaning the town would receive a $275,000 payment each year, which would result in roughly $5.5 million over the course of the agreement.

In each of the last two years, the town paid $850,000 in tipping fees, meaning the town would save at least $17 million, though likely more considering rising tipping costs, should the company spend less than $5 million in the permitting process.

Connolly also told the board that should the company need to spend more than $5 million during the permitting process, the town would garner a financial benefit via a potentially increased property value and subsequent higher tax payments.

The board spent more than an hour discussing the revised proposal and heard public comment from Town Meeting members Peter Manoogian and Martin Costello, who both represent Precinct 10, which is located near WIN’s facility.

Cicolini was the most active member of the board in questioning Connolly and expressed skepticism about the revised proposal, particularly regarding the increased tax benefit the town would receive should WIN make additional investments in the monofil. That part of the contingency clause generated the most conversation from board members, and the Board delayed a vote pending additional information about the exact tax benefit the town would receive.

In a statement, Connolly said the company was looking forward to working with the town to provide the additional information, and that they “hope to come up with a path for us to provide those benefits.”

“We were pleased to present a revised proposal that addressed the modifications the selectmen
approved, with language that provides significant economic and environmental benefits to the town while making the project economically viable,” Connolly said.

The agreement, should it be approved, would allow WIN to continue dumping the ash generated from its waste-to-energy plant into its monofil for the next 20 years, once the monofil hits the 50-foot cap set by Town Meeting years ago.

But, in order to do so, the company would have to earn a positive site suitability assessment from DEP, which DEP officials said is unlikely to happen, barring a change in state law due to the facility’s location. WIN’s facility is located adjacent to Rumney Marsh, a state-designated area of critical environmental concern, and state law currently prohibits the company from expanding its landfill because of that adjacency.

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