MARION — Curbside recycling will continue next year.
Marion City Council voted unanimously to continue curbside recycling at its last meeting of the year Thursday, drawing a round of applause from members of the audience who had turned out in support of recycling pickup.
Now that council has voted to pay the fees to continue curbside recycling, residents’ monthly utility bills will likely go up by $0.30 to $0.50, Marion City Public Works Director Jim Bischoff has said.
The issue first went before council after Sims Brothers Recycling notified the city earlier in the year that it would no longer accept the city’s recyclables after the end of the year, unless the city paid a processing fee.
Previously the city did not have to pay anything for the Marion-based recycling facility to sort, bale and prepare for shipment the recyclables that the city collects at residents’ curbs every week.
But upheaval in the recycling industry has caused markets to flood and driven down the price of bales of plastics, papers and other household recyclables, causing recycling facilities across the country to ask local governments to start paying processing fees.
The final vote was taken after weeks of debate on the issue, a debate that began with claims that household recycling is no longer viable, that it wasn’t the city’s job to recycle and that the resources spent on collecting recycling should be put to other uses; and ended in talks with other governmental agencies to chip in more money toward the city’s recycling collection.
Marion City Council had looked poised to vote down the proposal to pay the processing fees, thereby ending curbside recycling in the city, but then a flurry of residents expressed support of curbside recycling, saying they would be willing to pay the extra money per month, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials met with city officials to encourage them to continue curbside recycling.
Before the vote was taken Thursday, Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer urged council members to vote in favor of the proposal and continue curbside recycling.
At last week’s city council meeting, Schertzer signaled that the city plans to seek more grants from the Ohio EPA to support recycling or litter prevention efforts, including a grant to purchase new recycling trucks.
He said he hoped the city would apply for Ohio EPA grants by the deadline in early February.
The council’s Thursday vote allows the city the enter into a three-year contract with Sims Brothers to process the city’s recyclables.
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Last month, members of a three-member council committee voted to modify the length of the proposed contract before it went before the full council for a vote, making the proposal for a one-year contract, instead of a three-year one.
But in later meetings, city officials expressed that they wanted the flexibility to enter into the longer, three-year contract if they chose to.
The final language of the ordinance passed Thursday allowed the city to enter into a contract with Sims Brothers for “up to three years.”
The city would likely be in a better position to win grant funding for its recycling program if it had the longer, three-year contract.
In 2019, the processing fees will cost $56.75 per ton of recyclables. Based off an average of 775 tons of recyclables per year, the fees will amount to about $44,000 next year, Bischoff has said. In 2020 and 2021, they will be about $45,500 and $47,000, respectively, he has estimated.
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