Curbside recycling picked up by city - again

By Paul Ploumis

If you thought curbside recycling was tossed into Ashland’s history bin, think again.

The issue is back on the agenda for today’s meeting of the Ashland Board of Commissioners.

City leaders received a bid from Rumpke of Kentucky Inc. on the matter. An agenda item for today’s meeting says:

“City Manager recommends awarding the bid for single stream curbside recycling service to Rumpke of Kentucky Inc. to begin to advertise through the city utility bills and other methods for data collection of residents who wish to participate in the program. This process will determine if sufficient public interest exists to initiate a voluntary curbside recycling program.”

The agenda also states under fiscal notes that “If the number drops below 850 participants, the city will pay the difference of $7.75 each below the 850 participant threshold.”

City leaders have tossed the idea back and forth several times on whether or not to add curbside recycling to the city for years. A prior discussion for curbside recycling started in 2010 and required 1,000 customers to sign up for the program.

 The bid from Rumpke will survey the citizens again in hopes of adding the service to Ashland.

“I understand the value of curbside recycling,” said City Manager Mike Graese. “If it gets implemented, my hope is we will see a reduction (in materials) taken to the landfill. If we can reduce the landfill cost then it’s a good thing for the city (costs) and citizens.”

They need to get 850 customers to implement the program. The monthly fee for the program will be  $7.75, and the city would be in a three-year contract with Rumpke. Over the three-year contract the service fee will increase 3% raising the program to $8.92 by the third year.

“We came to a decision this would be the right time because the only thing the city has to do is provide the customers,” said City Commissioner Marty Gute. “The company is providing their equipment, billing, trucks and workers. To help them out we are putting the sign up sheets in the water bills to try to get the 850 customers to participated in the program.”

“I am proud that the proposal I made over a year ago has finally came to fruition,” said City Commissioner Matt Perkins. “This has been a long time coming, and the citizen have wanted it. Everyone is finally on board on it for our city.”

The city, however, has been down this road before. As The Daily Independent reported previously, the city said a prior survey indicated 79 percent of respondents said they would be interested in having a program. Of the surveys sent out, 1,691 were returned either via the website or in printed format, but 398 were returned without addresses (a requirement) and 264 were not within City of Ashland city limits. The 79 percent (816 households) who were in favor were derived from the remaining 1,029 individuals who participated in the survey.

Of those who said they were interested, 80 percent said they are willing to pay for the service. Of those willing to pay, 44 percent said they would pay between $1-$4.99 per month and 122 households said they were willing to pay nothing. Sixteen said they would pay $15 or more a month. Fifty-five percent of all survey respondents said they consider recycling to be very important and cited “Pickup Not Available” (58.5 percent) and “Inconvenient” (26 percent) as their top barriers to recycling.

Assuming the 816 customers sign-up, the prior analysis stated that the one-time setup cost for the recycling program would be $296,150. This amount included a full size truck, a mini-packer, a container with a lid and a container hot stamp and excludes depreciation. This cost would be $362.93 per household annually ($30.24 per month).

The annual cost would total $231,972, including a three-man crew, an administrator, fuel cost, maintenance cost and Rumpke Facility costs. The annual cost would amount to $284.28 per household annually ($23.69 per month).

In the past the city has came to the decision the cost to add curbside recycling to the city was too prohibitive. The issue has come up several times since its initial attempt in 2010.

The survey will collect the resident’s name, email, phone number and address.

Gute also said the sign up sheets would be accepted up to 60 days after they are sent out, and Rumpke will have 45 days to get the containers out.

Graese also said there would be no monetary commitment by the city by accepting the bid.

“I think we have a majority on board with the bid,” said Perkins. “I think we will have enough folks to see this all the way through.”

If it passes and 850 people agree to participate the curbside recycling should be in place by January 1.

“I’m overjoyed by it,” said Gute. “I hope we have enough activity to warrant curbside because there has been a want and a need for several years. I am overjoyed to be able to offer it, but if we don’t do it now, we will never be able to do it.”

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