At separate Special Town Meetings in their respective towns Dec. 12, Thomaston and South Thomaston voters approved exercising the right of a "Put Option" with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.

Weather may have played a part in the low turnout, as only six voters were in attendance at South Thomaston and four at Thomaston.

The approval of the voters was required for the towns to liquidate their share of the PERC assets held by the Municipal Review Committee, which administers solid waste management.

Thomaston, South Thomaston and Owls Head make up the Cooperative Solid Waste Transfer Facility located on Buttermilk Lane in Thomaston.

The three towns decided at their annual town meetings to go in a new direction with the disposal of solid waste, and in April 2018 will begin delivering solid waste to ecomaine in Portland.

By exercising the Put Option, the towns chose to require that PERC repurchase the limited partnership interest in the facility in exchange for a cash payment equal to each of the 187 towns' proportionate share of $1,500,000, which represents the agreed-upon aggregate value of all limited partnership interests held by municipal members of MRC.

Thomaston's annual performance credit from PERC has averaged $40,000. It is based on the popluation of the town from the 2010 census.

South Thomaston's ownership interest in PERC allowed the town to average about $16,000 annually in performance credits over the last four years, according to Jan Gaudio, chairman of the Select Board. "Those funds are used by the town to fund our demolition and bulk waste facility, which is not part of the transfer station," Gaudio said.

Owls Head voters already approved the option at their town meeting in August. The town averages $25,000 annually in performance credit reimbursements. "That money just goes into our general budget as part of other income, and thus is not earmarked for any specific use, but counts towards total income," Tom Von Malder, Select Board chairman for Owls Head, said.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.