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A recycling advisory committee wants the city to contract with an outside company to provide curbside recycling — at least for a while — and absorb residents’ costs into property tax bills.
The Columbus Recycling Committee identified four options for weekly or biweekly recycling pickup in a Monday presentation to the Columbus City Council. Council members expressed a willingness to at least look at the options during budget hearings, which will be July 30 and 31.
City Councilman Frank Miller, a member of the recycling committee, said he and other committee members think the best approach would be to start with a contractor-run service for collection and processing before moving some or all responsibilities to the city.
That’s because both models have benefits and drawbacks.
While contracting with an outside company would save the city between $1.3 million and $2.2 million in upfront costs, the city would have to pay between $250,000 and $350,000 a year in operating costs. The city would save money on the operational side and might even make money if it took over some of the services; however, startup costs would be substantial.
Miller said mixing the models would allow the city to escape those upfront costs and eventually save on operational expenses as well.
Committee members estimated that bringing a contractor-operated service to the city would cost between $1.54 and $2.08 per resident each month. Mayor Kristen Brown and the committee said the amount should be absorbed into tax bills, rather than a standalone fee. If the city took over collection and continued farming out some or all of the other services, the cost would be less, Miller said.
Officials have been unable to come up with an estimate for those combined services, because of the uncertainty over how the city council would pay for upfront costs.
Miller said he went into the Monday meeting thinking the public was not yet ready to pay for curbside recycling through their taxes because unpopular and recently repealed trash fees still are fresh in residents’ minds. But he said the feedback he received after the presentation demonstrated to him that people might be ready for curbside recycling after all.
Jim Lienhoop, the city council president, said he was impressed by the committee’s presentation and thinks curbside recycling is a real possibility. All residents should feel a sense of urgency, he said, because to do nothing would be to continue to pump too much trash into the landfill and force the county to look for another site in about 50 years.
Lienhoop said he looks forward to bringing curbside recycling into the city council’s annual budget discussions.
Lienhoop said he looks forward to bringing curbside recycling into the city council’s annual budget discussions. If nothing else, it would get the council to think about its priorities and how it might fit the service into its offerings in 2013 or beyond.
“We have a lot of financial demands,” Lienhoop said.
By the numbers
Current residential recycling rates in Bartholomew County:
percent of all recyclable paper
percent of all recyclable plastic
percent of all recyclable metals
percent of all recyclable glass
Source: Columbus Recycling
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