Danville's recycling will still go to Lexington, but some of the money from the sale of that material may be coming back.
It's only two years into the 10-year contract the City Commission entered into November 2010, but City Manager Ron Scott said the agreement provided for some negotiation of the deal. He and City Attorney Stephen Dexter have met twice with representatives from M&M Sanitation, the company that provides both curbside solid waste and recycling services, and a “good faith” agreement is in place to split revenues from sale of the recyclables 50-50.
The city’s recycled materials are transported to be sorted and marketed in Lexington, where they are currently bringing in about $60,000 a year.
Scott said the recycling contract was controversial in some circles because it made payment for the service mandatory for residents, but returned no financial benefit to the city as a whole. Although it would not be a large amount to begin with, some of the money may be credited back to customer accounts a couple of times a year, Scott said.
Another change would be what Scott calls “right-sizing” the service for downtown businesses by allowing commercial customers that produce very small amounts of trash, such as offices, to pay a residential rate instead of the commercial rate, which is twice the residential price plus the regular recycling rate.
He said the revisions would also include a “hold harmless” clause that would prevent the city from incurring more cost should the price of recyclables decline significantly.
Customers in Danville currently pay $7.72 a week for solid waste pickup and $2.74 for recycling. The cost of living adjustment resulted in a 27 cent (about 2 percent) total increase over last year's price for both services, an amount Scott expects to be about the same in the coming year.
The negotiations with M&M are not complete. Scott, though, said he has received indications the company is close to finalizing language in an amended contract that could be ready for the City Commission to vote on by their second regular meeting in July.
While he believes tweaking the arrangement was necessary, Scott said the city’s arrangement with M&M has been positive from a fiscal standpoint.
“It was and is a great contract in terms of price,” Scott said, noting the combined solid waste and recycling charge in Danville is among the lowest in the region. “The fee structure is not bad at all. We got a good deal for the price.”
Donna Fechter, director of the Boyle County Recycling Center, has been supportive of the city's curbside service, but also has been mindful of the amount of money leaving the community on a monthly basis. She said agreement was a step in the right direction.
“Any time you can bring revenue you've generated for your product back to the community that's a positive,” Fechter said.
Fechter said the participation rate has remained at around 55 percent. The city was producing an average of about 66 tons per month through the first four months of the year.
One thing curbside recycling has yet to do is put a dent in the amount of garbage people are throwing away. Fechter said there was actually an eight ton increase in the amount of solid waste from January to April this year over last year.
Fechter said some people continue to resist recycling and the larger containers have allowed people to throw away more than in the past, even though their neighbors have made large cuts in their garbage production through recycling.
Both Scott and Fechter said the return on commodities is a step toward providing people with an incentive to recycle.