TOWNSEND -- The Board of Health discussed potential changes to the trash contract and septic bylaws Monday but took no action.

G.W. Shaw, the current trash hauler, provided a proposal in September to reduce the $625,000 yearly contract by as much as $87,500 by reducing the amount of trash removed from each household.

The company made the proposal in response to a request by the town to reduce the budget after the town did not pass a $417,000 override for the North Middlesex Regional School District.

If changes to the trash contract are going to affect the fiscal year 2014 budget, the changes must be decided on by April, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan.

Tipping fees are based on the tonnage of waste, said Tessa David, director of the North Central Regional Solid Waste Cooperative. Collection and transportation of the trash is a separate expense.

David worked with the town and Shaw's to negotiate the existing contract.

Some or all of the cost of tipping fees could be passed on to individual households. The taxpayers would still be responsible for the cost of running the trucks to pick up the waste, she said.

The fiscal year 2013 budget shows $231,000 for Townsend's tipping fees.

Two ways of reducing the waste tonnage and potentially increasing the amount of recycling were on the table. Households could be issued one 64-gallon tote and purchase bags to dispose of additional trash if needed.


The town could also choose to sell trash bags that would cover some or all of the tipping costs.

Communities that use totes are cleaner, committee member Jim LeCuyer said in support of using totes. Sturdy, closed totes would reduce the amount of trash blowing around and cut down on flies.

The initial cost of the covered containers would be $200,000. This cost could be a capital outlay paid for by the town or the trash contractor could purchase the containers and spread the cost of the payments out over a five-year contract.

"Honestly, that's $200,000 I'd rather not spend," Sheehan said.

Town Meeting approval is needed for either one of these plans, he said. Boards are limited to approving three-year contracts.

Using bags, or pay-as-you throw programs have worked well in Lunenburg, a town of similar size, Sheehan said. There was no capital outlay and their tonnage decreased.

"It's effective, fairly easy to implement and no cost for the totes," he said.

The entire cost of the tipping fees do not have to be covered by bag purchases if the town chooses that type of program, David said. Households could be given a certain number of bags and purchase more if needed.

The discussion will be resumed at the next meeting on Jan. 28

A change to the septic system bylaw was briefly discussed and also postponed until the next meeting. The purpose of making the change is to make it more practical to put septic systems in, LeCuyer said.

The current bylaws need to be updated because they were "done back in the day when Title 5 was very new," he said.

In other business:

Panda Wok has agreed to send more staff members to become ServSafe certified. A recent inspection by Bridgette Braley from the Nashoba Associated Boards of Health revealed that only one employee had the required food safety certification, said Nashoba Sanitarian Rick Metcalf.

Because many of the kitchen staff do not speak English and have a difficult time communicating with the inspector, wait staff will also be trained according to a plan of action from the restaurant given to the Board of Health.

The training is offered in many languages, including Chinese, so the workers will be able to earn the required certification, Metcalf said.

Braley will reinspect in three weeks, he said.