Council continues to explore city-wide recycling
Thu, 07/16/2020 - 1:41pm caleb
City of Grayling conducts another public input session for the proposal during Monday night’s regular meeting
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Grayling city council continued its exploration of a possible city-wide recycling program with another public input session on Monday, July 13, during the council’s regular meeting. The responses from citizens in attendance – both in-person and online – were mixed, and the council ended up delaying a decision on the issue until next month’s regular meeting.
The City of Grayling recently sent notification cards to residents about the meeting.
“Council will take public input on city-wide recycling with each residential property owner to pay 100% of their cost. The first year of a contract is approximately $60/parcel,” according to the card.
The public input part of Monday’s meeting included a variety of questions and comments from participants regarding the possible city-wide recycling in Grayling.
One citizen asked the city to consider working out an arrangement with Grayling Charter Township. The township offers recycling to its residents at its transfer station on North Down River Road.
City Manager Doug Baum explained that all of the townships and the city used to have an agreement through the county for county-wide recycling; all Crawford County people who wanted to participate in recycling efforts could take their materials to the Grayling Charter Township facility. Baum said county-wide recycling dissolved after some of the townships pulled out of the program, and he said the city’s subsequent efforts to reach an agreement with the Grayling Charter Township were unsuccessful.
People asked about the cost.
City Clerk Lisa Johnson said the proposed five-year contract with American Waste would be “$60 per household” in the first year, it would have “small increases” each year, and the cost would be $67.57 per household in the fifth year.
“Why can’t that be taken out of our taxes? Why do we have to pay extra for it?” one participant asked.
Baum said the taxes collected by the city are not sufficient to pay for no-cost recycling.
One person spoke in support of the proposal, saying that the projected cost “doesn’t seem like a large payment.”
“I heartily support recycling for Grayling,” she said.
One resident asked if the Housing Commission would be included in the proposed program.
“We have 88 units. That’s a lot of recycling,” she said. “We would like to be a part of recycling.”
City officials said their estimate of 571 residents who would be included in the recycling program – based on the number who receive curbside trash service through the city – did not include the Housing Commission.
Mayor Heather Forbes said the city would have to get more information from American Waste to add the Housing Commission units.
One input session participant asked if the company would be recycling the materials or dumping them in with trash.
“American Waste assured us it 100 percent goes to a recycling plant,” said Councilwoman Kimberly Kersey.
Other residents questioned the definition of “parcel” as used on the public meeting notification cards. Would someone who owns two or three lots be charged once or multiple times?
City officials said it will depend on the council’s decision on the method used to move forward, if it opts to put the issue before the voters. A special assessment would charge all households the same fee; a millage would base the fee on the value of a family’s home.
One city resident said a large container that people could use to deposit their recyclables would be “cheaper” than city-wide recycling featuring curbside pick-up.
Kersey said it would be more difficult for the large senior citizen population in the city to participate using the single location pick-up method, and the city was also concerned that people would use a drop-off container to dispose of trash and other material.
“We want to avoid that,” Kersey said.
After the input session, city officials discussed the proposal. Council members said they were still undecided.
Kersey said she was “teeter tottering” on the issue because Monday’s input session featured mostly negative feedback and during the previous session “everyone was for it.”
“I’m feeling like now I’m torn. Maybe we should put it on the ballot,” Kersey said.
Councilman Karl Schreiner said he was concerned about the extra cost to households with so many people currently experiencing economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He suggested the possibility of revisiting it later when conditions improve.
“There are people out there that just can’t do it,” Schreiner said.
“My option one would be to put it on the ballot and let people vote,” Kersey said.
“I think I’m with Kim on this. I think we should put it out there,” Forbes said.
“I think that’s the way I would like to go,” said Councilman Clinton Ross.
City officials said the only way right now to put the city-wide recycling on the November ballot would be as a millage, which would base the fees on value of homes, and it would include commercial properties, which were not included in previous price quotes for the service.
The council was not in favor of including commercial sites to the proposed program, and members were not in favor of the differences in cost for various properties that would be instituted under a millage.
“I don’t think the millage is a good way to go,” Forbes said.
Council members asked about the possibility of a special assessment, which would charge all residents the same fee for recycling.
Johnson questioned if the city can “legally do a special assessment.”
Erich Podjaske, Zoning & Economic Development Department Administrator for the City of Grayling, said “townships can do special assessments” but legal counsel is still working on the possibility of the city conducting one.
The council tabled the recycling proposal until the next meeting in an effort to “get an answer from legal about a special assessment.”
The next city council meeting is slated for Monday, August 10, at 6:30 p.m.
Recycling icon courtesy of www.iconfinder.com, iconnice studio