Community financial support needed for recycling program

Residents of Lovell will soon be asked if they want to help support a community recycling program financially.

Members of the Rose City Recycling committee attended a work meeting of the Lovell Town Council Tuesday, June 2, and presented three proposals for advancing the recycling program currently being organized by the National Park Service and staffed with local volunteers.

Committee members Danielle Peck and Christy Fleming presented an overview and answered questions from the council. Peck presented a document that explained the history of recycling in Lovell, costs of the program, information on what neighboring communities are doing, the results of a business survey and a proposal that included three possible plans.

recycle“We have come to the conclusion that the town should control the recycling program for the sole purpose of longevity and sustainability,” Peck said. “Many of our committee members are young and will be leaving the area to start their lives eventually. We feel that we don’t currently have the manpower or the resources to start and maintain an organization ourselves and that the town is in a better position to maintain a recycling program long term.

“We are all aware that this will not be a highly profitable endeavor, but we also agree that it is for the greater good of our community and the cost to dump our garbage is greater – and rising – for the citizens of Lovell than the cost to recycle.”

The Park Service has been organizing and paying for most of the cost of the recycling program for some six or seven years now, even purchasing the trailers that are parked at the Red Apple parking lot, and Fleming, the Chief Interpreter for the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, said the Park Service budget will not allow the agency to carry the burden after December 31 of this year.

“We’re hoping you’ll come up with a good solution or we’ll pull the trailers as of January 1,” Fleming said. “We can’t run the recycling program for the town anymore. If there’s no MOU (memorandum of understanding), we’ll use the trailers in the park.

“It’s the Horseshoe Bend lawn, dispatch service, spot radios in the park or recycling.”

Peck presented the recycling committee’s analysis of program expenses and presented the committee’s three potential plans. Plan one includes hiring a part-time town employee four hours per day, five days a week, to run the program and using the town’s backup garbage truck for compacting cardboard. Dumpsters for cardboard recycling would be placed around town, and the Park Service would donate the recycling trailers to the town.

Under plan two, the town would purchase a used cardboard baler at an estimated cost of $5,000 plus another $5,000 to run three-phase power for the baler, and instead of hauling the cardboard to Powell, the cardboard would be shipped from Lovell. Plan three is a hybrid plan using a town employee three days a week and volunteers for two days.

The recycling committee asked the town to place a survey in the water bills that come out June 20 asking town residents if they would be willing to pay a small monthly fee to cover the cost of a recycling program. The committee discussed a fee of $1 a month, but after examining the costs on Tuesday the council said a fee of $1.50 per month is more realistic to cover costs, which could amount to around $20,000 per year. Businesses that use a large amount of cardboard would be asked to pay a higher fee of $3 to $5 per month.

Once the survey results are returned, the committee and the town would hold a public meeting to discuss the recycling program. It is hoped that the new town-run program would be up and running by Jan. 1.

The council spoke with enthusiasm about a town-operated program but said costs must be met.

“It’s going to take community involvement,” councilman Scott Allred said, noting that the town doesn’t have the budget to absorb the costs. “People in town are really excited about recycling for the most part.”

Councilman Bruce Wolsey pointed out that recycling cardboard will save costs at the landfill in the long run, and Councilman Brian Dickson suggested that the committee check with Western Sugar to see how the company disposes of its cardboard. Town Clerk/Treasurer Valerie Beal asked the committee to formulate the survey/questionnaire that could be placed in the town water bills and get the survey to the town before June 20.

The committee noted that Powell residents pay $2.50 per month to support recycling, and Cody residents pay $1.50 per month, commercial accounts $5.

At this week’s regular June meeting on Tuesday, the council voted to accept a survey written by Rose City Recycling that will be placed in this month’s water bills, and Councilman Kevin Jones said he encourages all residents to complete the survey.

By David Peck