Liqour selections

How Vernon plans to use $19,000 in booze ‘nips’ fees

VERNON — Vernon is using public funds from “nips” bottle depots to pay for the pickup of single-use liquor bottles and other trash in a partnership with local nonprofit groups that serve the People with Disabilities.

The sale of 37.6 million nips in Connecticut between October and April netted municipalities more than $1.8 million in environmental cleanup costs under a program launched by lawmakers last year. The legislation added a nickel surcharge to the sale of liquor bottles under 50 milliliters, with the money returned to the municipalities where the pinches were sold.

Municipalities received the first round of funding in April, with the largest checks going to Hartford, Manchester, Bridgeport, New Haven and Waterbury, which each sold more than a million pinch bottles. New Haven led the state in sales, with over 1.5 million copies sold over six months, enough to return $78,690 to city coffers.

Town and city leaders decide how to spend the money as long as the effort goes to trash control and waste reduction.

In Manchester, money from pinch bottles goes to a part-time recycling co-ordinator, cleaning supplies and storm sewer inserts that can catch the small containers people regularly dump on roadsides.

Next STEP program workers from the Vernon School District and Opportunity Works Connecticut Inc. began collections this week in city parks and other public places after the city council approved Mayor Dan Champagne’s plan. to use $19,000 of the mini-bottle surtax.

“Using these funds to keep our community beautiful while providing work for Opportunity Works and Next STEP is a win for everyone,” Champagne said.

Opportunity Works provides vocational and other training for people with disabilities. The Next STEP program is for students with disabilities, providing job training and helping students build positive relationships and independent living skills, city officials said.

City Administrator Michael Purcaro said the organizations were obvious choices when officials were determining how to use the nip bottle money. As more funds become available, officials are ready to expand the effort, Purcaro said.

The Opportunity Works team has experience collecting, sorting and cashing in bottles and cans and raised about $8,000 last year, according to Rene Lambert, CEO and co-founder of the Opportunity Works. organization. Students in the Next STEP program will learn job skills while helping clean up the city, said Superintendent of Schools Joseph P. Macary.

“We require all students to do community service and this program is ideal for that,” Macary said. “Our students give back to our city. They are part of the solution.

Manchester received a first quarterly payment of $50,030.50 and expects to receive around $120,000 a year from pinch bottle returns, public works director Tim Bockus said. The city will use the money to hire a recycling and community services coordinator who will be responsible for organizing trash pickup and monitoring illegal dumps, Bockus said.

Some of the money will also be used for personal protective equipment for staff and volunteers on cleanup projects; trash cans and recycling containers designed to eliminate trash and water seepage; and litter catch inserts for storm sewers designed to catch small objects, including pinch bottles.

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