City pursues grant for carts for recycling program|Recycling charges for city’s commercial customers under review

Published 3:43 am Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Contributing Editor

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, gave the OK for the Public Works Department to pursue a grant that would allow the city to switch from bins to roll-out carts for its curbside recycling program.
“I think it could be a great thing for the city to do,” said Councilman Archie Jennings, who becomes mayor next month after winning the mayoral election earlier this month.
The city wants to participate in a grant program that would provide some of the money need to make the switch. The city could receive up to $100,000 in grant funds.
Earlier this year, the city learned that the Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance is administering the grant program through the Solid Waste Management Trust Fund, Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director, told the council. If the city receives a grant, DPPEA will reimburse the city at a rate of $25 per roll-cart, which is about half the cost of a 65-gallon roll-out cart, according to Lewis.
In addition to about $136,000 in the sanitation division’s fund balance to help pay for the roll-out carts, it appears the city will have about $57,000 it can apply toward buying the roll-out carts, Lewis told the council. The city had budgeted $175,000 for a new trash truck, but the city will be able to buy the new trash truck for $118,000, leaving a surplus in that line item of $57,000, Lewis explained.
When the council learned the DPPEA will award the grants on a first-come, first-served basis, it unanimously voted to allow Lewis to pursue the grant funds.
In a related matter, the council decided it needs more information before deciding if the city will charge a recycling fee for the city’s commercial solid waste-disposal customers. Lewis proposed a fee of $3 per existing 4 cubic yards of solid waste, with a minimum fee of $3 per commercial account.
Lewis told the council he believes a fee is justified because city crews and equipment are being used to pick up items the state mandates must be recycled. Using those crews and equipment to do what the state mandates adds expense to the solid waste-disposal services the city provides, Lewis noted. Those items include oil filters, wooden pallets and plastic bottles and containers.
Councilman Doug Mercer said he has problems with charging every commercial customer a minimum fee because some customers won’t have such items entering the city’s waste stream. If a customer is not using placing such items in the waste stream, they should not pay a fee for a service they are not using, he said.
Others on the council said they understood Mercer’s position, but they said the commercial customers could be adding other items (glass, metal cans and paper) to the waste stream that can be recycled. No matter what items are being picked up for recycling, city crews and equipment are picking up more items because of the state mandate, they noted.
Lewis was asked to determine what it’s costing the city to provide the service required by the state and how often collection of recyclable items would be required. He also was asked to recommend a fee based on his findings. Lewis was told to provide that information to the council for its review before it decides whether to impose recycling fees on its commercial solid waste-disposal customers.
For addtional coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions.