Chapel Hill council advances recycling plans

tgrubb@newsobserver.comJanuary 29, 2014 

  • What’s next?

    The Orange County Board of Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Department of Social Services building, 113 Mayo St. in Hillsborough.

— The Town Council supported a county plan Monday to contract with a private company for weekly curbside recycling service to town residents.

But there are more decisions – and more questions to answer – before the deal is done, council members said. They want the county to provide more details about its future recycling program by early March.

The commissioners will talk Tuesday about rural curbside recycling options and also could award a five-year contract for urban curbside recycling. The county currently provides recycling service; the towns are responsible for their own trash collection.

Chapel Hill’s contract for weekly curbside collection would begin in June with an option to renew. If the council agrees, the county would buy 96-gallon roll carts and let residents mix their recyclables. The town requested the option to switch later to biweekly collection.

The county dropped one of three fees that paid for its recycling program when a 2012 state court decision called county authority to levy fees into question. However, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough can authorize the county to collect a fee from urban residents for recycling service.

County officials compared service bids from four companies. The lowest cost for weekly service was $3.29 a month for each household; the lowest cost for biweekly service was $2.30 a month.

The curbside collection fee would be charged in addition to the county’s basic fee – now $47 per household – and a convenience center fee based on the type and location of a home.

Council member Matt Czajkowski said the council has been talking with the county commissioners for months but still doesn’t have all the answers.

“We’re not willing to just outright support what you’re doing in absence of any real guidance on a local agreement,” he said.

The towns and county will include more specific details about the recycling program in an interlocal agreement, Town Manager Roger Stancil said. The agreement would set fees and potential increases, establish performance checks, give the town a voice in the recycling program and decisions, and create a solid waste advisory board.

If the council agrees to move forward, that doesn’t give away its leverage to get the best deal for residents, Council member Jim Ward said.

“I think we need to act with some confidence in the system and in our colleagues at the county level that they’re in this to be a good partner just as we are,” he said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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