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~ Letter to the Editor ~ IT IS TIME TO SIGN THE WIN WASTE HCA

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To the Editor:

After living in Saugus my entire life and serving on the Board of Selectmen a total of 15 years, I thought I had seen it all. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Until now, I have never seen Town leaders knowingly and intentionally leave millions of dollars on the table, at a time when they could be especially beneficial use to our community.

WIN Waste has been in Saugus since 1975 and they plan to stay in Saugus. It is important for people to understand that forcing them to close their ash landfill has nothing to do with their operation: burning trash and making electricity. The plant is not going anywhere so why not benefit from it?

It took almost two years of discussions for WIN Waste and the Saugus Landfill Committee to agree to the terms of a mutually beneficial Host Community Agreement (HCA). Having more productive communications with our largest taxpayer was a goal for me and many of our Town leaders. After the Landfill Committee forwarded the HCA to the Board of Selectmen in the fall of 2022, there were several months of negotiations between the board and WIN before the Selectmen voted to approve the final agreement on April 4, 2023.

This was a significant development for the Town. The majority of the board understood that, regardless of how anyone feels about WIN Waste, the HCA provides the Town with huge economic and environmental benefits if WIN obtains the necessary permits to continue to operate their ash landfill.

Inexplicably, 13 months after the Board of Selectmen, the primary governing body for the Town, voted to approve the HCA, the town manager has yet to sign it. This is unacceptable.

If we had a Host Community Agreement with WIN Waste 20 years ago, we would likely have collected an additional $15-20 million in the last two decades – in addition to the taxes the company pays. An HCA would provide funding beyond the equivalent of property taxes.

The HCA that we approved would provide Saugus with free tipping, worth about $1 million per year for the next 20 years. WIN Waste also agreed to make some important upgrades to their facilities, formalize lower emissions levels, continue to support and manage the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, and install a stand-alone air monitor at the WIN site. This is in addition to the Town-hired third-party consultant that reviews all of their submissions to the DEP and Board of Health and ensures they are operating in compliance, which they are.

To execute this agreement, the Town of Saugus does not need anything other than a signature.

The alternative? WIN ships the ash to Shrewsbury, which is happy to accept the additional revenue this would generate.

Right now Saugus residents, especially our seniors on fixed incomes, are hurting badly from higher prices on just about everything. Elected officials have an obligation to explore all options for increased revenue, in the short- and long-term. It is simply not right to turn our backs on a realistic proposal simply for political reasons, which is exactly what is happening with the HCA.

Let’s not forget, we will be asking our residents to approve another debt exclusion for the construction of the new Northeast Vocational School in the coming months.

As a reminder, WIN Waste will have to prove to both the DEP and Board of Health that the continued operation of the landfill will have no negative impact on the Town, and is the most environmentally responsible option. That case cannot be realistically made without the endorsement of the Town, which is the purpose of the HCA.

Saugus has been remiss in not negotiating this type of agreement with WIN Waste before now. The Town has already left millions on the table. We have a chance to correct that mistake and a significant amount of good-faith negotiating went into this HCA. As residents, we have the right to insist that our current leaders respect the democratic process and understand their obligation to govern with the best interests of the entire Town in mind, and not at the whim of a vocal minority.

Let’s not turn our back on another $20 million over the next 20 years? It is time to sign on the dotted line and move this process forward.



Anthony Cogliano

Member, Board of Selectmen

Co-chair, Saugus Landfill Committee

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