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The Town of Cheektowaga is thinking about spending up to $10,000 to help residents buy backyard composters at a reduced price.

While the town wouldn't require residents to buy one, town officials encourage the idea.

The composters could cut down on the amount of leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste Cheektowaga has to haul away and pay to have dumped at a composting facility, said Councilman James J. Jankowiak, who is chairman of Cheektowaga's Sanitation and Recycling Committee.

"It's a community project and at the same time it's going to cut costs on tipping fees," Jankowiak said.

Town officials are talking with Organic Concepts, a Clarence company that sells a backyard composter called the Earth Machine.

Organic Concepts would bring a truckload of backyard composters to a Cheektowaga site for residents to buy, according to the company's proposal. The town would chip in as much as $10,000 to defray residents' costs.

The proposal has been turned over to Cheektowaga's Law Department to determine whether it is legal for the town to enter into such an agreement. Town Attorney James J. Kirisits said he had not yet seen the proposal.

The Earth Machine, priced at about $35, would cost much less if the town decides to help subsidize costs, said Bruce Mapel, owner of the company.

"Organic yard and kitchen waste generally makes up about 30 percent of the waste stream," Mapel said. "So if you take that out of the waste stream it can reduce (Cheektowaga's collection and disposal) costs."

The machine turns yard waste into compost for lawns and gardens in six to eight weeks. Jankowiak and Mapel have been demonstrating the machine at meetings of Cheektowaga taxpayers groups to gauge community interest.

Cheektowaga has been looking for ways to cut recycling and sanitation costs. The town currently picks up yard waste, dumps it in a huge bin at the Sanitation Department, then pays Concord Engineering in Springville $5.85 per cubic yard to take it to its composting facility, said Frank C. Max Jr., the department's interim chief.

While backyard composting may not be a long-term solution for cutting costs, it's a start, town officials said.

"If you think of what we spend in composting," Jankowiak said. "We spend up to $40,000 just to get rid of grass."

"Anything we can save, very well may be worth the $10,000 investment," Jankowiak said.

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