Grand County: Lone bid for recycling services gives officials sticker shock
March 3, 2008
The Trash Company was the sole bidder with an offer to provide recycling services to Grand County, but town and county representatives said the bid was too costly.
The Trash Company offered the collection of recyclables with roll-off bins at four locations ” Fraser/Winter Park, Granby, Grand County Landfill and Grand Lake ” to the tune of roughly $300,000 per year. To cover the costs, each entity would pay $75,000 of the bill.
Town planners from Kremmling, Grand Lake, Fraser and Winter Park attended yesterday’s meeting at Granby Town Hall to discuss with county commissioners and county staff what to make of the bid, and what the next step is for recycling in Grand County.
“If it came to $75,000 a year or no recycling, I think my board would say no recycling,” said Grand Lake’s town manager, Shane Hale, adding that the town’s water quality issues and beetle kill mitigation have been taking up the largest piece of the town’s financial pie.
Fraser’s town manager Jeff Durbin agreed that Fraser’s board would most likely say ‘no’ as well.
“To me, the nut isn’t how to do it. The big nut is, how are we going to pay for it?”
Durbin said. “All our entities support recycling, but we’re all fiscally strapped.”
Many alternatives for funding were discussed, such as an increase in sales tax or a county-wide mill levy, which would require a vote from constituents.
It was suggest that users pay a fee for recycling, or the bill could be added into their water bill as a mandatory fee, much like Kremmling does with its residents.
But after hours of discussion, it was clear that what may work for one entity, may not work for others.
Liz McIntyre, who is volunteering her time to help organize a recycling program and has experience in the trash hauling industry, pointed out that states that have shown success in recycling, such as California and Oregon, have tied recycling into its solid water expenditures through a surcharge on tonnage or a cost that is included in curbside trash pickup.
In Summit County, she added, voters voted for a $4 million bond issue that funds a new facility at the landfill. The enterprise bond helped pay for a new building, a water system, new equipment and a new facility to improve recycling.
“Could something like that work here?” she asked.
Programs that ask users to pay for recycling when they drop off recyclables haven’t been too successful, she said ” and doesn’t meet the goal of getting trash out of the landfill.
“Are we trying to make our citizens happy? Or are we trying to use our resources more wisely and divert stuff from going into the landfill?” McIntyre asked. “If you look at California, they’re diverting 50 percent now. Our county is (diverting) 5 to 10 percent.”
County has something up its sleeve
Town officials agreed to present the outcome of the bid at their next town meetings,
and discuss how much the towns are willing to spend on recycling. The county needs to let The Trash Company know whether it accepts the bid by March 21.
County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner said the county has another option it is considering if the bid is not accepted, but would not reveal what that option was.
“It won’t cost more than what we’re doing now, and it would take at least a year to get done,” was the only clue Bumgarner would reveal of the county’s plan, despite questions from town managers.
It was agreed that the group of officials and concerned citizens will meet in the near future to discuss recycling in another public meeting, but a date has not been determined.
Times and dates for future meetings will be published in the Sky-Hi Daily News.