Trash disposal district cuts ties with longtime consultant manager

Costs skyrocketed in 2017
Feb 6, 2018

Amid skyrocketing trash disposal costs for the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District, the district’s longtime consultant manager has been fired.

At least for an interim period, the district's oversight committee has tapped the three towns' administrators to run the operation, said Stephen Cushing of Marion, who chairs the committee.

Cushing confirmed Tuesday that the committee voted to end the working relationship with Moss Hollow Management at its January 11 meeting. He declined to share reasons for the decision.

At Tuesday night's Marion Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Administrator Paul Dawson said the reason for the severing of ties was to get ahead of the changes that will hit the district in the near future. The district currently has an agreement with SEMASS that allows the three towns to dispose of trash collected at the transfer stations for free—that contract ends in 2020.

SEMASS is a “shred and burn” facility that creates energy by incinerating solid waste. After the waste is burned, the district receives some of the resulting ash and deposits it in a landfill.

"We thought it made sense to really just take that on from a municipal standpoint and work with selectmen and administrators about how to address the crunch we know we're up against," Dawson said. "We've had preliminary discussions with SEMASS...There's a lot to think about."

Moss Hollow Management, a largely one-man consultancy owned by Raymond Pickles—who also serves as Marion’s town clerk and sits on the Board of Assessors—had run the trash disposal district for many years. Pickles could not be reached for comment at his Marion home.

Existing largely to allow the three member towns to jointly contract with waste-to-energy facility SEMASS in Rochester, the district operates transfer stations in Carver and Marion.

Residents pay a yearly fee for access to the transfer stations. Private trash collectors also leave waste at the stations; that waste is weighed and flagged with the town from which it was received. The amount of trash a town deposits at the transfer stations, directly correlates to the fee it is charged.

In 2017, after not having received a bill for five years, officials were surprised to learn that the towns would be charged tens of thousands of dollars for disposal fees at the transfer stations.

Marion received a bill for $25,000. Wareham, which generates more than half the trash at the Benson Brook Road station in Marion, was charged $89,000—a stark difference from the roughly $1,200 the town had paid in prior years, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said at the time. Carver received a bill for around $59,000.

The district committee, which is made up of representatives from each town, is charged with the oversight of the district—including the hiring of an administrator to oversee its day-to-day operation. Until January, Pickles filled that role.

Pickles, who retired from his post as town administrator in Marion in 2000 after 28 years, also serves in a management capacity for the Town of Gosnold, in addition to his duties as town clerk and member of the Board of Assessors in Marion.

Moss Hollow Management was involuntarily dissolved on June 30, 2017, according to the Secretary of State's office. The circumstances surrounding the dissolution are unclear.

Dawson added that Moss Hollow Management's contract with the towns had long expired, but Pickles had continued his work uncontracted.

According to the district's January 11 meeting agenda, the committee discussed assigning Dawson to oversee "finance and compliance" of the district, Wareham Town Administrator Derek Sullivan to focus on "facility operations," and Carver Town Administrator Michael Malinoski to oversee "all administrative and legal functions."

Sullivan declined to comment at this time. Neither Malinoski nor Dawson could be reached for comment.