By BOB SHRALUKA
Way to go, Decatur! You’re recycling beyond what anyone expected when curbside recycling began in September of last year and reached full speed a couple of months later.
So good, in fact, that it’s caused a problem: Budgeted funds to have it taken away have run dry with a month to go this year.
“It’s been good for the Earth but not good for the bottom line,” Mayor Dan Rickord said at Tuesday night’s city council meeting in City Hall.
When recycling was first launched in the city, there was no way to get a realistic handle on how many residents would embrace the idea. Turns out, it was beyond expectations.
“We knew it could increase drastically (from the beginning), but we didn’t know how drastically,” Operations Manage Jeremy Gilbert told council.
Gilbert said he has checked with other communities Decatur’s size “and found out we’re about 20% higher.”
Even now, a year later, “we still get calls daily from people wanting a recycling cart,” Gilbert said.
The city’s recyclables – from curbside pickups and the drop off site (photo) on the public works grounds on Elm St. – are taken to a company in New Haven. What the city hauls to the New Haven site has considerably reduced the trash/garbage which it transports to the Adams County transfer station and the city’s costs there.
As of mid-November, though, the city is $18,000 shy of paying its recycling bill, which prompted a council debate Tuesday on how to come up with the funds and also how to reduce the city’s costs.
Mayor Rickord said he and Gilbert had talked about two options to trim those costs. One would be haul to the transfer station all the cardboard which people toss in recycling. The transfer station would take cardboard and that would reduce the number of trips being made to New Haven by gas-guzzling trucks.
Another idea is to somehow restrict the use of the drop off site – which collects a lot of stuff each week – to only city residents.
“A lot of people from (outside the city) are using it. People in Decatur shouldn’t have to pay for county people to get rid of their recyclables,” Rickord said.
Gilbert noted that he has already erected a sign saying, “City residents only.”
County residents can drop recyclables at 1209 E. Bellmont Road (just north of D&D TimeSavers) in Decatur and at the transfer station (3775N 200E), in Berne, and in Monroe on the third Tuesday of each month. There is no charge at any of those sites.
As for finding $18,000, Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Whitright will peruse the current budget to seek some funds to use, perhaps the council’s promotional fund.