Cost of recycling likely to rise in Kent

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The company that has been picking up recyclable materials in Kent is planning to charge the city more than twice as much to perform the service as it has in the past, adding to the ongoing financial woes in the city's solid waste budget.

Kent City Council's meeting will start an hour early Wednesday so officials can discuss solutions to the problem.

When Kent solicited bids for its recycling service last month, the only bid was from Waste Management, the city's existing hauler, which proposed charging Kent $3 per household each month.

Kent currently collects $3 per resident, using $1.57 of it for recycling and the rest for the city's compost site on Admore Drive.

Since the city couldn't afford the new fee without an increase in the solid waste fee, severe cutbacks in services offered through the compost site, or both, the city re-bid the contract, this time giving haulers the option of hauling materials some place other than the county's district recycling center.

This time, Waste Management decided it could do the job for $2.92 only if it took the materials to its own site. Otherwise, the price would jump to $4 per household _ a 155 percent increase over this year's contract.

The Portage County Solid Waste Management District was the low bidder at $2.29 per household. An alternative bid of $2.09 per household also was submitted, but Environmental Services Coordinator Mary Gilbert said the price difference is small, and the city would probably collect 30 percent fewer recyclables with bi-weekly pickup.

Charles Ramer, coordinator of the Portage County Solid Waste Management District, said residents could expect few changes if its bid is accepted.

"The routes won't change, the collection schedule won't change," he said. "The only thing that would change is there'd be a big red truck picking up their recycling."

If the city decides to accept the county's bid, it needs to make a decision soon so the county has time to order trucks needed to do the job, Gilbert said. If the city decides to contract with the county but isn't prepared to provide the service starting in January, Waste Management is willing to extend its contract, but only at the new rate.

Because the compost site is costly to maintain, the city has implemented a number of steps in recent years.

The most recent slate of changes called for a $2 fee for residents to pick up materials from the site, $10 for non-residents and $15 for landscapers. The city backed off a plan to charge residents to visit the site regardless of whether they were picking up materials or dropping them off.

Gilbert said by charging for finished materials, the city is receiving no compensation for the part of the service which costs the most money. The city contracts for a tub grinder to process brush and a leaf turner to process the mulch.

"The more brush we have, the more it costs us," she said.

Gilbert is working on a list of options to present to council next

week.

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