After a lengthy discussion Monday night, a group of Durham voters approved a new 20-year Interlocal Agreement between the towns of Durham and Middlefield during a town meeting.
The vote came after a nearly 18-month long effort to update the recently expired 40-year Durham Middlefield Interlocal Agreement Advisory Board (DMIAAB) contract, an agreement that sets the ground rules for the .
"We firmly believe that this agreement before you and for your consideration is a good agreement. It's an agreement that will allow some flexibility," First Selectman Laura Francis said before the vote. "I look forward to another good partnership with our sister town of Middlefield."
The 10-page document was redrafted beginning in 2010 by a 9-member task force formed to update the agreement. In recent months, drafts of the agreement have been reviewed and scrutinized by selectmen, each town's attorney and brought forward to public hearings in both Durham and Middlefield.
On several occasions, including Monday night, some Durham residents questioned the task force's decision to maintain equal representation on DMIAAB.
Currently, each town is represented by four board members while roughly two-thirds of the cost burden of the transfer station falls on taxpayers in Durham.
"As it stands it really is not fair. It is taxation without representation," said resident Donia Viola who felt the towns should be represented proportionate to the amount they spend on dumping their trash.
Durham selectman Steve Levy, speaking as a member of the public, said he supported the agreement.
"There's a 40-year history that it's worked," Levy said, a comment that was echoed several times.
While residents raised several other concerns about the agreement, including a one-year opt out clause and whether DMIAAB equipment should be contracted out to the towns, officials said the agreement was purposefully written to be "flexible".
"There's no such thing as a perfect contract," said town attorney Bob Poliner.
While several residents voted down the agreement, most in attendance were in favor of it.
The Town of Middlefield has yet to schedule a town meeting to vote on the agreement.