City at a recycling crossroads
, 2023-05-08 17:05:00,
Faced with increasing costs to operate the city’s curbside recycling program, members of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners are questioning whether the present system can — or should — be maintained.
“I’m not saying we do away with recycling,” the board’s Chat Hutchens said when it met last Thursday night and approved a new materials-handling contract for the service.
“But I just think we need to look at some other options.”
Hutchens and fellow commissioners subsequently voted 4-1 (with Marie Wood dissenting) to award a new contract to Green For Life Environmental Inc. (GFL) the company that presently hauls away recyclables collected curbside by municipal sanitation personnel.
Yet that prevailing support was lukewarm, with Hutchens wanting clarification beforehand that the new pact with GFL — while running five years — does contain a clause allowing it to be severed by the city government with 60 days’ notice.
It’s about the numbers
The renewed agreement with Green For Life reflects the inflationary impacts now gripping consumers, especially where goods or services related to vehicle transports are concerned.
GFL has been charging Mount Airy $60 per ton to handle recycled materials such as paper, aluminum and others since late 2019, which dates to Foothills Sanitation and Recycling performing that service until being acquired by GFL in 2020.
But under the new recycling services agreement that goes into effect on July 1, the municipality must begin forking out $75 per ton. Under that cost, coupled with a $300 hauling fee per load and another fee which gives GFL the option of adding 3 % to the total, the city government is now looking to pay $78,300 annually for the recyclables handling.
City sanitation personnel pick up about 650 tons of those materials each year from local customers.
And the payments to GFL don’t tell the whole story.
After Commissioner Tom Koch posed the question, City Manager Stan Farmer said the total cost to Mount Airy for recycling — figuring in its own manpower and equipment expenses — has been about $135,000, including the cost for GFL.
Under the new agreement, that will jump to about $175,000.
This is in contrast to the days — as detailed in a presentation by city Public Works Director Mitch Williams — when Mount Airy profited from recycling.
Beginning in January 2012 when the city launched curbside recycling and…
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