The Warren Board of Selectmen is being forced to review its options for the town's trash hauling, as increased disposal and overweight fees threaten to deplete the budget.

The board met with Scott Johnson, owner of Thomaston Recycling Inc., Aug. 14 to discuss the situation. Thomaston Recycling took over Warren's trash hauling in January when the previous company, Ahlholm Inc. Roll Off Service, suspended service suddenly.

"The weights are really getting astronomical," Johnson told the board, explaining that the contract is up to 16 tons, but the hauls are running 18.6 tons and more.

He said usually the machines that pack the solid waste are set up to pack until a light comes on, and added that some of the town's containers are getting bowed from over-packing.

"It's really getting to be a safety issue," Johnson said. "Everything is fine until something happens."

Johnson said the town has to follow DEP and OSHA rules, just like TRI does, and "When you bend your boxes, that's telling you something. They are made for a certain amount of weight and pressure." He recommended turning down the compaction pressure.

He explained that often the load is packed down and the packing mechanism is left in, then when it is run through again it gives a false reading.

He said if a load is more than 75,000 pounds, fines are accrued all the way back to 69,000 pounds. "So you're talking a huge fine," Johnson said.

Selectman Brent Pratt noted that if TRI had a tractor-trailer — which could haul more weight — there probably wouldn't be any issue, suggesting that proper equipment is not being used to haul.

He asked Johnson whether if more money were paid it would still be an issue, and Johnson replied that he had had many conversations with former Town Manager Bill Lawrence and now new Town Manager Sherry Howard about the overages.

"You hauled it for a period of time before you bid on it," Pratt said. Johnson agreed, but pointed out the contract states up to 16 tons.

"Where I'm headed is, you knew when you bid you didn't have the equipment to haul it legally," Pratt said.

Johnson said TRI has no interest in using a trailer truck and suggested the board talk to the other haulers who also bid on the service in January, which it did at its Sept. 11 meeting.

Both Gordon Libby of Gordon Libby Inc. and Aaron Grindle of Grindle's Transport were present.

Libby told the board he had had no problems in the past with overages and worked things out with the transfer station. Grindle said he didn't charge his clients for overages.

Their five-year quotes for service included a fuel surcharge. Libby bid $228,950, while Grindle bid $183,700. TRI's bid for four years was $220,000. It was noted that Johnson went right to the town when the previous hauler stopped its service suddenly on a Friday afternoon. And the board ended up going with TRI by a vote of 3-2.

"Since Aug. 14 we have had a few conversations with Scott to resolve the situation and to come up with options that would benefit all involved," Howard said, but recent correspondence indicated that TRI no longer wanted to haul for Warren.

The board agreed, by a vote of 3-2, to invite Johnson back to a future meeting to discuss options, and has not placed the item out to bid again as yet, according to Howard.

"Scott's been here," Pratt said. "It's time to resolve this issue and move on."

He and Jan Macdonald voted against having Johnson come back in for further discussions.

The board's next meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at the town office.

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