MARION — Ohio EPA officials have urged Marion City Council members to continue curbside recycling in the city and to vote in favor of the solid waste plan that will come before them in coming months.
“We never want a service to end because once you turn off that faucet, it is very hard to turn it back on for your residents,” said Chet Chaney, of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, at Monday’s City Council meeting. “I think generally residents want to recycle. They want to recycle the right way. So the service is an important one for you to continue.”
Council members will likely vote at their next meeting, Thursday, Dec. 20, on whether to continue curbside recycling in the city. City officials have said that curbside recycling will end after Dec. 31 unless council members agree to pay processing fees to Sims Brothers Recycling for up to the next three years.
The processing fees would cost an estimated $44,000 to $47,000 per year and would cost residents an extra $0.30 to $0.50 on their monthly utility bills, Marion City Public Works Director Jim Bischoff has said.
At Monday’s meeting, Chaney also discouraged council members from voting down the solid waste plan that will go before them for approval in the coming months, as a city councilman has threatened the city could do.
Marion is part of a four-county district charged with implementing a district-wide plan to safely dispose of trash in the district and to reduce reliance on landfills through recycling, reuse and waste reduction efforts.
Last month, Marion City Councilman Josh Daniels, D-At-large, proposed a resolution that would withhold approval of the district’s solid waste plan unless the district contributed $1 for every $2 that cities in the district invest in curbside recycling efforts. The resolution proposed a $125,000 cap on the amount in matching dollars a city could receive.
Under Ohio law, the plan must be approved by three of four city/village legislatures: Delaware, Marion, Mount Gilead and Mount Vernon.
If the measure failed in at least two of those legislatures, the state would step in and write the district’s plan for them, something that Chaney advised against and warned would make the city less competitive for Ohio EPA grants.
“You do not want bureaucrats from Columbus writing your plan for you,” he said. “They’re not you. This is not their community. They understand to some extent your needs and your wants and your goals, but nothing like you all do.”
At the same time, Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer signaled that the city would be seeking more grants from the Ohio EPA to support recycling efforts or litter prevention, including grants to purchase new recycling trucks.
“This plan has to be in place and ratified because that’s step No. 1 in getting an EPA grant,” he said. “We’re going to look at a wide variety of grants that I hope that the city will be applying for by Feb. 1.”
Schertzer also said that the city is in discussions with the district in the hopes of having the solid waste district pay the required match for future Ohio EPA grants.
Daniels moved to send his resolution to withhold approval of the solid waste plan back to committee, saying that he would revisit the resolution after those discussions with the district.
Council members voted to send the resolution back to committee by a 7-2 vote.
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