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Cities willing to pony up for recycling

Staff writer

Both Marion and Hillsboro are likely to help fill the budget hole caused by rising costs of recycling.

Although the $120-a-ton cost of taking recyclable material to a privately owned South Hutchinson recycling facility is $82 more than the $38-per-ton cost of taking it to a landfill, both cities seem willing to pay the difference.

In January, the county planned to switch recyclable deliveries to Fort Riley, which accepted recyclable materials for free. Before the county delivered a load there, however, that facility stopped recycling because of COVID-19 concerns. It has not resumed operations.

During January and February, when the county still picked up recyclable materials from every town, 74.92 tons were taken to be recycled.

The county discontinued picking up recycling in February although Hillsboro and Marion continued to deliver recyclables to the county’s transfer station.

From March through May, the two cities together took 90.55 tons to the transfer station. Hillsboro, which invested in recycling carts for residents and a specialized truck with a mechanical arm to empty carts into the back of the truck, sends about four times as much recyclables to the station as Marion does.

So far this year, the county has spent $9,426 in tipping fees at the recycling facility. It earlier considered taking recyclables to a landfill instead.

“We’ve always looked at recycling as kind of important,” Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine said at a Monday meeting with county commissioners and Marion city administrator Roger Holter.

Commission chairman Jonah Gehring said he hoped to find a way to make recycling work.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said that when the county started recycling, “it appeared to be on a good track.”

Now the price is too high, especially with county residents being charged for a service they barely use, he said.

“I don’t think we can continue the charge to the rest of the county for this and they’re not participating,” Dallke said.

Marion council members unanimously voted Monday to pay the county $82 a ton for recycling, an amount Holter estimated would cost $4,089 a year.

“I just don’t see how we can drop recycling,” councilmember Susan Gray said. “We’d have so many people unhappy.”

Hillsboro city council heard a review of the Monday meeting from mayor Lou Thurston on Tuesday. Recycling will be on the next agenda for a vote.

Last modified June 17, 2020

 

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