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June 24, 2014 7:22 am

EDITORIAL: Easy to support modest increase in recycling fee

Written by Tom Lawrence

Gas. Hamburgers. Cable bills.

You could write a long list of things that have increased in cost in the past 12 years. Go ahead, it’s easy.

Beer. Clothing. Cell phones.

For the most part, people have accepted it. They realize prices go up, and while they may grumble a little, they pay the extra cash and move ahead.

Movie tickets. Milk. Rent.

So we don’t think people should get too bent out of shape by the Powell City Council’s proposal to increase the monthly recycling bill from $1.50 to $2. It would be the first time the price went up since September 2002.

The increase would mean about an extra $17,000 for Powell Valley Recycling, a nonprofit agency that recycles cardboard, paper and numerous other items. PVR does so on a $130,000 annual budget, and it needs to invest in some new equipment before the well-worn baler and skid steer loader it uses break down.

According to Manager Mary Jo Decker, the organization also would like to expand its facility — it’s running out of space, since it collected almost 1.3 million pounds of items during the 2012-13 fiscal year — and possibly give the five employees a pay raise. They are modestly paid while performing a very useful service to our community.

Not every business in town would see the increase. Some turn their cardboard over to the city and pay between $3.50 to $6 per month to have that handled for them. They would see no change in their bill.

However, we think it’s worth considering another option.

The city bought a baler a few years ago to handle the cardboard it picks up. During budget hearings, the council considered offering a cash supplement to Powell Valley Recycling, and the nonprofit’s board discussed seeking a $10,000 grant from the city.

But in the end, the board decided that would only serve as a one-time boost and instead asked the city to increase the recycling fee, which is part of monthly utility bills. The council had urged PVR to do just that during the budget talks.

However, if the city turned all cardboard baling and sales over to Powell Valley Recycling, that would bring more revenue to PVR and free the city from that chore. PVR is not interested in collecting the cardboard by itself; in the past, the city provided a truck and an employee and a PVR staffer joined in that effort, along with paying for the fuel and other costs.

As the price of cardboard dropped, PVR decided it could not afford that, so the shared effort came to an end. That is regrettable.

Right now, businesses that have the city pick up their cardboard do not have their other recyclables picked up. That’s not ideal, either.

Should the team approach be tried again? Should the city get a share of the proceeds for doing so, but allow Powell Valley Recycling to do all the baling and marketing?

They already work together, with the city collecting the $1.50 monthly fee from its utility customers and turning the money over to PVR. It might be time to strengthen this connection in an effort to promote conservation.

The first reading of an ordinance to raise the fee will come before the council on July 7. If it moves along, the fee could be changed in mid-August, which means it may go into effect in time for the September bill.

We will willingly pay the extra $6 a year to keep PVR in business. After all, we’ve paid more for a lot of other items in the past dozen years.

Like insurance. Pizza. Shoes ...

1 Comment

  • Comment Link June 25, 2014 1:33 pm posted by DJY

    Um how about glass?

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