I am writing this letter to oppose the privatization of waste management services in Portage County. I would like my voice to be heard as a citizen of this county and as a professional who has dedicated many years of my career to trying to bring only the best for Portage County.
Whether we are citizens of the county or employees, we must never forget that the purpose of county government is to improve and safeguard the health, safety and welfare of our citizens, with dedicated county employees who work to serve the public with the core values of teamwork, commitment, professionalism and mutual respect.
Given this purpose, it would be foolish for our county to throw away a great recycling program that has been named a "model" program, one that operates in the black, and one that puts Portage County in the forefront of reducing waste in positive ways, creating employment, keeping costs low, as well as running an efficient recycling program for the county.
We all know that all local governments are facing crises in terms of budgets and services. County government is not the only institution that has to deal with many changes in our funding and our operations. While privatizing has seemed a possible solution to critical problems in the fields of education, toll roads, nursing care, rehabilitation centers and other services once provided by local, state or federal government, this experimental model of turning over our basic services to private industry does not always produce positive results. Private industries not contracted by the county do not answer to our local government's system of checks and balances. They can be deregulated and conduct operations in ways that are profitable to them, but not necessarily positive for our county.
I strongly urge the EPA to withdraw the plan that is presently on the table. We who work here in Portage County are doing everything in our power to make this county a model in every way we can. Our county has taken forward, innovative steps in the areas of our health department; in our first responders and emergency management; in my department, the maintenance and construction of roads and bridges; in our protection of our surface waters; in our beautiful parks, which recently passed a much needed, long overdue levy; and in so many other ways.
Let the county continue to respond to the needs of our citizens in ways that are working well. Our current recycling program is seen everywhere as a great step forward. The EPA has the opportunity to support Portage County, not alter a positive forward course that most citizens do not either want or need. Let us not hand off our services to private industries whose stated goals are surely their own survival -- not the best interests of the citizens of Portage County.
No one wants a huge intrusive government that denies rights, levies big taxes or makes unreasonable demands. But by the same token, government at its best, especially local government, serves the needs of citizens in an accountable and regulated way, something that private industry cannot and will not do.
Mickey Marozzi, Portage County Engineer