West U just raised solid waste fees and may be asking residents to pay an additional fee to recycle yard waste in the coming months.
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Residents will be paying an additional $2 a month in solid waste fees starting in January to cover the cost of a decline in the sale of recyclables. Senior citizens and disabled residents will be paying $1 more a month. The West U City Council will close the recycling center in January to make up for revenue shortfalls.
City staff is also projecting an increase in solid waste fees in 2015.
This November, the city council may ask residents to pay approximately $2 more a month on top of the rate increase to pay to recycle yard waste.
City Manager Michael Ross said council has asked to talk about implementing yard waste recycling and will be having a discussion about the city’s fee schedule in November. Council will look at fees for green waste as well as recreation fees, he said.
The city recycled yard waste from around 1994 to 2006, Assistant Public Works Director Dave Beach said. During that time, the city collected between 1,400 and 1,600 tons each year.
Yard waste is now collected with trash and diverted to a landfill. Because yard waste is collected with trash the cost is the same, approximately $32 a ton, he said.
Yard waste, commonly referred to as green waste, is composed of grass, flower cuttings and hedge trimmings, as well as domestic and commercial food waste.
Beach said the city stopped recycling yard waste because the city’s composter, located off of IH-610, sold its property and the closest composter that could handle the volume of yard waste was located on US 290 past Beltway 8. The facility was not close enough for the city’s trucks to drop off the yard waste and make it back in time to complete their routes, he said.
If city council decides to implement yard waste recycling, there is a composter located east of SH 288 and Beltway 8 that the city would look at, Beach said.
The estimated cost of implementing recycling yard waste is about $125,000, Beach said, which would cost residents about $2 a month.
Every year the council hears recommendations from it’s Recycling and Solid Waste and Reduction Board.
“Every year we ask them and every year we’re turned down,” Immediate Past Chair of the Recycling and Solid Waste and Reduction Board Jan Kellogg said. “Their argument is that it’s always too expensive.”
InstantNewsWestU.com contacted the mayor and city council about their thoughts on yard waste and many of them said they need to know more before they formed a decision about whether or not they support it.
“There’s always been good reasons not to do it,” Mayor Bob Fry said. “If there is something new to discuss I’ll listen.”
Fry said that council has always been fiscally conservative but they are having to deal with solid waste fees one way or the other.
“It’s not an easy one,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts.”
Councilwoman Joan Johnson said she doesn’t know enough about it at this time.
“If we can do it and justify it that would be great,” she said.
Councilman Ed Heathcott said the whole city would have to buy into recycling yard waste.
“We as a community haven’t bought in on recycling,” he said. “It seems we don’t have a citywide inclination to recycle. I don’t see the majority of citizens are wanting to do this.”
Councilman Dick Yehle said he needs more information, but in his mind he doesn’t see yard waste as a pollutant.
“Council clearly needs to make a decision on it,” he said. “Its very difficult when you have these cost items because you fight like the devil to save a buck here and spend a buck there.”
Mayor Pro Tem Susan Sample says she will support implementing recycling yard waste.
“I’m for it,” she said. “Our motto is the city that recycles. I want to be fiscally conservative but green waste isn’t much.”