STAUNTON — During Staunton City Council's first look at the proposed 2022 budget, they heard that one city program may be kicked from the curb: recycling.
Nothing has been decided yet and more information will be presented at the council meeting on April 1, but City Manager Steve Rosenberg introduced the city's proposal to end curbside recycling on Thursday.
If Staunton did decide to end curbside recycling, it wouldn't mean the city would abandon recycling altogether. Instead, it would mean Staunton would have a centralized recycling program, where citizens would have to travel to a drop-off location to leave their recycling.
The proposed budget presentation stated that moving from a curbside pickup to a central deposit location would have several benefits, including:
- Level recycling fees for FY2022.
- Less expensive operations.
- Increased recycling options for city residents and businesses including a resumption of the recycling of plastics, previously eliminated in 2019 due to the collapse of the market for recyclables.
- Establishment of a more agile and responsive system that can better respond to future changes in the industry.
According to Rosenberg, another upside of introducing a centralized recycling system would be that staff monitoring the site would be able to help educate the community on what and what not to recycle, which has been a challenge in the past.
Several council members had preliminary comments and concerns during the meeting about shifting to a centralized recycling location. Councilwoman Carolyn Dull urged the city to consider individuals who were elderly, disabled or didn't own cars and how they might face challenges recycling through a centralized system that required personal transportation.
"I'm afraid it will mean people will just quit recycling, so I don't want us to forget our low-income, elderly and disabled who would want to recycle," Dull said.
Mayor Andrea Oakes stated she agreed with Dull and would like to hear how a centralized recycling system would impact Staunton's at-risk communities.
Oakes also stressed to the public that the proposed budget has not been approved, and the council's next step will be to work with the city staff to make adjustments and suggestions.
According to the budget schedule, the city council will hear more about the 2022 budget and recycling options at 5:00 p.m. on April 1 during a budget work session. A public hearing regarding the proposed 2022 city budget will be held April 8 during the regular city council meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Consideration of the adoption of the budget is scheduled for the Council meeting on April 22 at 7:30 p.m.