Recycling concerns not lost on council

By Per Peterson


A recycling revelation took place at the most recent Lyon County Board of Commissioners meeting, but it wasn’t a positive one. Tracy city council members on Monday were briefed on the current recycling situation in the county and the issue didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Ray Sweetman of West Central Sanitation — one of two companies that bid for the county’s recycling contract — spoke to the council concerning the situation. The bad news, he said, is that there is a distinct possibility curb-side recycling could soon be a thing of the past. The good news is talks to eliminate the service — set to end on Sept. 27 — are still in the early stages.

“Once people review it and think about it more, I think common sense will come back,” Sweetman said. “I think people will start to realize that it’s more or less a transfer of dollars, and they’ll realize the environmental impact as well — (if there is no curb-side) all that would go to the landfill instead of being recycled.”

The county board voted 4-1 at its Sept. 3 meeting to spend no more than $150,000 on roll-off containers, in which people can put recyclables. Recycling bids last month came in well over the county’s previous contract with Southwest Sanitation.

Sweetman said West Central Sanitation was the low bidder for the service at $423,000, which is about a 39% increase of what the current contract was at. Both bids were rejected by the county.

“Right now they voted to look at picking up at drop sites only and eliminating curb-side pick-up, which would mean all the towns in the county would no longer have curb-side pick-up,” Sweetman said. “If they do that, that means they could try to negotiate with towns on where they could put drop sites at, and I think they’ll struggle with that because everyone’s going to worry about it being overrun with recycling.”

Lyon County Environmental Administrator Roger Schroeder said Tuesday that county commissioners are listening to their constituents and are well aware of the importance of the issue.

“I’m encouraged,” he said. “I know the commissioners have been listening. They have heard a lot of comments and are taking them all to heart.”

Schroeder added that a decision on curb-side one way or another could be made at this Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting. He said the county could opt to make every-other-day curb-side pick-ups, or could even choose to collect every other week in select communities, based on population. Tracy, he said, would likely be one of the towns that would receive such a service, while smaller towns would not.

The issue comes down to money.

Sweetman said the biggest expense is getting recyclable materials picked up in all the communities. He estimates the cost increase to continue curb-side pickup would be roughly $1.56 a month per household, which would be on top of the existing $73,000 it would cost the county for recycling pick-up — that fee is shared among county residents.

“You go to the grocery store to buy milk, you’re used to paying three bucks a gallon, then stuff happens and you realize milk went up to four bucks — we’re all upset over it, but that doesn’t justify going out and buying your own cow and in the end paying six bucks,” Sweetman said. “Two years ago, you got paid $30 a ton for recycling, today it’s costing $38 a ton to get rid of the recycling, plus the shipping,” he said. “That $423,000 bid did reduce down to every-other-week recycling. And it did assume the county would take that responsibility of disposal, which would be about $73,000 a year, county-wide.”

Another option Sweetman said has been thrown around is doing recycling only in towns of a certain size. To that, Schons asked if those who live in a town that might be excluded from recycling services would see lower taxes because they would have a county service taken away.

If curb-side service is eliminated, it is not yet known where drop-off sites would be located. And there are other concerns with drop-off sites that could become overloaded with materials.

“A lot of towns are concerned … ‘If you get rid of my curb-side recycling and now I have this drop site here it’s going to be looking like a landfill,’” Sweetman said.

• The council approved a resolution for the pre-sale of the 2019E bond. The proposed issue includes financing the City’s outstanding GO Improvement Bonds, Series 2009A for an interest cost savings. The Series 2009A Bonds were issued to finance the 2009 Street Improvements within the City. Debt service for the bonds will be paid from special assessments and property taxes according to value. Interest rates on the obligations proposed to be refunded are 3.90% to 4.20%. The refunding is expected to reduce debt service expense by approximately $13,355 over the next five years.

The Net Present Value Benefit of the refunding is estimated to be $12,655, equal to 2.876% of the refunded principal. This refunding is considered to be a “current refunding” as the obligations being refunded are either pre-payable now or will be within 90 days of the date of issue of the new bonds.

• The council moved to add an additional bus loading sign in front of St. Mary’s School. In a letter to the council, St. Mary’s Principal Lisa Dieter wrote that motorists cannot see the yellow-painted curb, which leads to people parking on the north end of the bus loading zone when they’re picking up children. For safety reasons during loading and unloading of buses, Dieter requested the City put in a second sign.

“It’s been a problem forever,” said council member Jeri Schons. “You can’t see (the yellow curb) in the winter.”

Daniels estimated the total cost of the sign and post would be about $60.

• Daniels made a request for the purchase of a new tractor for the street department after the City’s 9030 Ford tractor was sold for $6,051 after it blew a motor this past spring. The purchase price for the replacement is $133,500, which would include a new tractor and loader combination.

The new tractor Daniels is looking at is a 2019 John Deere 6130M with a front and rear PTO. He said there is $65,352.54 in the 801 Equipment Fund, about $40,000 anticipated from FEMA and $48,700 in December year-end transfers.

• The council agreed to hold its budget session at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16.

• The council approved a 3.2 malt liquor license and set-up license for Tracy Lanes.