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Published June 12, 2013, 02:30 PM

Grand Forks City Council considers changes to recycling program; options raise eyebrows

After being volleyed back and forth between the City Council and its service committee for a month, the future of Grand Forks’ curbside recycling program may finally be decided Monday.

By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald

After being volleyed back and forth between the City Council and its service committee for a month, the future of Grand Forks’ curbside recycling program may finally be decided Monday.

Council members have been discussing two proposals for the program, the first of which will continue the current level of service while the second seeks to expand it.

Both result in significant cost increases for residents.

No matter which one the council members pick, Public Works Director Todd Feland said the service’s success will continue.

“People are using the service whether it’s at the drop sites or curbside,” he said Monday at the council’s Service and Safety Committee meeting. The program has recorded an increase between 5 and 11 percent in tonnage collected each year since 2003.

Costs

The council’s first option is to keep recycling services the same.

If the city chooses not to spring for the new containers and expanded service, residential users would see their recycling charge increase from $2.42 to $2.52. The charge for those living in apartments would increase from $1.24 to $1.29 per unit.

The price increase covers a 30 percent jump in the program’s annual cost.

This year, $406,000 was budgeted for recycling. Under the first proposal, this amount increases to $528,000.

Feland said increased maintenance of the city’s four recycling drop sites is behind the increase.

The total climbs to $781,032 per year — a 92 percent increase — under the second proposal, which also would require the city to purchase new containers in addition to the increased drop site maintenance costs.

Containers

Most of the debate comes down to new wheeled recycling containers.

If the council votes to expand the service, new containers would be purchased by the city for an estimated $774,000. In the end, monthly user fees would increase from $2.42 to $3.93, which includes $1 charge to cover the new containers.

Council members asked that the charge be spread over a 10-year period and stop after that even if new users have inherited the containers.

“If we’re making people buy them, they should only pay for it once,” council member Doug Christensen said.

Whether the public should be provided with 90- or 60-gallon containers became a hot topic at Monday’s meeting. The containers would cost $60 and $40 respectively. Providing only 60-gallon containers would cut the purchase cost by almost $260,000.

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