Follow-up on Recycling topic
Pinedale Recycling Board meets with Sublette County Commissioners
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
August 20, 2009
The Pinedale Recycling Board met with the Sublette County Commissioners on Thursday, August 20th, to further discuss the fate of recycling in Sublette County. Recycling Center Coordinator Marti Seipp asked the Commissioners if they had "softened their hearts any" regarding funding for the Pinedale Recycling Center. Each of the commissioners emphasized they supported the concept of recycling, however it boiled down to an economic issue. "We cannot support $500/ton," said Commissioner Bill Cramer, who pointed out he does, and always will, recycle as part of his personal way of life. Commissioner Joel Bousman said, "We need to take a serious look at how to make it cost effective."
Commissioner John Linn said there was a problem with public perception that the commissioners want to shut down the recycling program in the county and he has received a number of e-mails from people who are angry. He said they were not shutting down recycling, they are just bringing the county subsidy down to a realistic level. They are willing to subsidize to a level of $100 per ton. "We support recycling," Linn said, "we just have to come up with a different plan to make it work."
Currently the Pinedale Recycling Center receives 80% of its funding from the County Commissioners and 2% from the Town of Pinedale as part of their joint-powers agreement. The remaining portion comes from contributions and revenue from the sale of their commodities.
Currently the cost to put things in the landfill runs from $30-45 per ton. The Pinedale Recycling Center costs around $500 per ton to operate. The Marbleton Recycling Center costs around $1000 per ton to operate.
The public can get more information about the operating costs for waste management in a report called the Sublette County Integrated Solid Waste Plan. Copies are available at the county libraries and from Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford, at the courthouse.
Pinedale Recycling Center Coordinator Marti Seipp commented that the level of service the public is asking for is not sustainable. "The public wants free trash service," she said.
The Commissioners allowed public comment on the recycling topic. Seven people made comments. One person said she felt the recycling centers should be given more time than just three months to work through the funding problem. Commissioner Cramer pointed out they have been subsidizing the recycling centers for twelve years and the centers have never been cost effective. "We’ve had the funding discussion every year for twelve years," Commissioner Cramer said.
Another audience member asked if a private company were to propose running the county recycling center, would the commissioners entertain the idea of eliminating the recycling boards and allowing a private contractor to run the program? The commissioners said they would consider any and all ideas to try and keep the recycling program running, the plan just needs to be more cost effective than the way things are currently being done.
Another person asked if the commissioners had ever received any complaints from the public about having to pay tax money to support the recycling program? The commissioners replied they had not. Commissioner Cramer said they have a responsibility to the public to manage taxpayer money wisely and consider the cost effectiveness of county-run programs.
Marti Seipp passed on a request from the meeting the night before asking if the commissioners would be willing to hold a public meeting to talk about recycling? The commissioners said they would, however they didn’t want it to be just a gripe session. They wanted the people asking for the meeting to be prepared to come to the meeting with realistic options and suggestions for how to improve the program to make it work more economically. Commissioner Linn added that any suggestions needed to be "county-wide solutions" incorporating the Pinedale and Big Piney areas together to create a more cost-effective program.
Ultimately, as Commissioner Cramer was answering one of the last public questions on the topic, several members of the public got up and walked out of the meeting as he was in mid-sentence. The commissioners listened attentively to all the public comment given, but some members of the public weren’t interested in listening to the commissioners’ full responses.
The message the commissioners left concerning recycling was they do support the concept of recycling in Sublette County and they are willing to subsidize it up to $100 per ton, but the two county centers are too expensive the way they are currently being operated. The commissioners encouraged those who want to see the recycling program continue keep working on trying to find a way to make the centers more cost effective.
Pinedale Recycling Board hears citizen comments about recycling Pinedale Online! August 19, 2009
Pinedale meeting set for recycling issues By Mari Muzzi, Sublette Examiner, August 17, 2009
Sublette County 2009 Budget: $166 Million Pinedale Online! July 21, 2009
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