County Board Votes to Shut Down Recycling
Wed, 09 Oct 2019 10:05:45 CDT
Montgomery County will shut down its recycling program, including all county facilities, after the county board voted 12-8 on Tuesday to cease operations, effective December 1.
Not a single board member spoke favorably about shutting the program down, but the decision came down to its financial sustainability. The cost to operate recycling is approximately $200,000 annually, and the program has a deficit of about $100,000, though that total differs from year to year and is dependent upon factors such as the price of commodities. Board Chairman Evan Young said the county loses about $2,000 on every truck load of recyclable materials.
Closing the program will allow private businesses to take over responsibility of recycling in the county. One business owner has already expressed interest in taking it over and would offer curbside pickup of materials at a monthly charge of approximately $10 for those interested in participating. Another business based in the northern part of the county has also expressed interest.
Prior to the vote, Finance Committee chair Megan Beeler told the board that Montgomery County has the last government-run recycling program around, and private companies cannot compete with it because it is a free service.
Board member Ron Deabenderfer said he would prefer to keep the program open until the private carriers open their service so that the transition would be easier. Beeler responded that she wanted a business to begin offering the service on December 1, but the county cannot force them to do so.
Mark Hughes asked why the board could not delay closing the program, and Beeler responded that the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that was proposed on Tuesday did not include funding for recycling. The board will vote on the budget during their meeting in November, and it takes effect in December.
Kirby Furness said nobody wants to get rid of recycling, but cuts have to be made in order to balance the budget. The closing of the Coffeen Power Plant has emphasized the need to decrease the county's budget. Chuck Graden said the county simply cannot afford to operate recycling anymore, adding that if residents want it, they will have to pay for it out of their own pockets.
Voting in favor of the motion to close the program were Young, Beeler, Furness, Graden, Bill Bergen, David Loucks, Dennis McCammack, Gene Miles, Jim Moore, Earlene Robinson, Bob Sneed and Donna Yeske. Voting against were Deabenderfer, Hughes, Connie Beck, Glenn Bishop, Tim Fogle, Sandy Johnson, Jeremy Jones and Richard Wendel. Glenn Savage voted to abstain.
The next Montgomery County Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 5:30 p.m.
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