City Council voted at its Oct. 5 meeting to raise Transfer Station prices by 50 cents, back to where they were before the coronavirus outbreak.

The city initially reduced prices so residents could pay with exact change and reduce the amount of money being passed back and forth between customers and station staff. Since infection rates have decreased statewide, the council decided it was not necessary to continue operating with the reduced rates.

Transfer Station Manager Mike McFadden said the $3.50 and $5.50 price points for 30-gallon trash bags and 50-gallon trash bags, respectively, should be reinstated because the station’s operating budget is based on those prices.

Right now, the station’s costs have increased dramatically with the Fiberight LLC closure, he said. The Hampden waste plant closed down this summer because it could not cover operating costs. The plant management said it hopes to open up again sometime this fall, but McFadden said he does not feel confident that it will.

It used to cost the city $290 per truckload of waste to Hampden, but Belfast has been paying $628 per truckload to a waste plant in Norridgewock, where the waste is put in a landfill, McFadden said. Fiberight was supposed to cover $150 of the increased cost, but has not done so since it closed.

Currently, there is an entire tractor-trailer truck full of returnables sitting stagnant because there are no facilities that have the capacity to accept that many bottles, he said. The transfer station is not accepting returnables right now and has not done so for a while.

Mayor Eric Sanders said much of the backup with returnables is because China is not taking plastic from the U.S. right now.

McFadden said if the transfer station's costs do not decrease soon, the city might be forced to think about a “new direction” for the facility.