Members of the Barron City Council invested some time Tuesday, June 9, 2020, discussing whether to convert the city’s recycling program from centralized bins to individual curbside carts for local residents.
While the latter alternative may be more convenient, it comes with a price tag, and it won’t happen without some difficult choices, council members learned.
The catalyst for a possible switch to curbside service is a contract with Rice Lake-based waste hauler Republic Services, which is now due for a renewal, council members were told.
But there are a couple money issues to consider, according to discussion at the meeting. They include:
• Each owner of an “improved property” in the city already pays Barron County $24 per year for recycling. If the city goes to curbside service, that fee won’t go away. Instead, an additional fee will be added.
• Recycling is becoming more of an issue because the market for recyclable materials is down, and people are misusing the service in some locations.
“We are in our second year of looking at manned recycling sites,” French said.
Recycling containers have been pulled from some areas because people are using them as garbage containers, he added.
“We can’t waste time and risk disease cleaning up food waste” at the county-owned Waste-to-Energy (incinerator) at Almena, French said.
There was an objection from council member Pete Olson (who also serves as a County Board supervisor on the county Waste Committee).
“I would rather not see the city or county spend time on (recycling),” he said. “To allow (waste haulers) to cherry-pick cities (for curbside service), the volume left to the county creates real issues. I personally don’t see curbside as an option.”
Council member Rod Nordby said it is difficult for elderly citizens to gather recyclables at home, then take them to county-operated bins (such as the ones next to KJ’s Fresh Foods).
Council member Kevin Haller said he didn think the city should mandate recycling, and that it should be each citizen’s choice.
“I think we are leaning in the direction of what’s best, economically,” said Mayor Ron Fladten. “We are better off doing what we’re doing now. If we change the service, it costs us more.”