Views on curbside recycling sought

Mindy Carls

Orion residents with an opinion on curbside recycling need to express it to village officials before the next village board meeting on Monday, Aug. 4.

During the meeting at 7:30 p.m., Village President Jim Cooper plans to have trustees decide whether to proceed with curbside recycling.

Board members hardly ever stay past 9 p.m., but in order to hear everyone who wanted to speak on Monday, July 7, the  board stayed until 9:30 p.m.

Cooper said he has received more calls on this issue than on any other.

“More people have approached me about this issue than any other in my 13 years on the board,” Trustee Mel Drucker said.

About a dozen people attended the meeting.

“If a lot of people were really against it, there would be standing room only here,” Trustee Jamie Lawson said.

Eagle Enterprises has proposed a curbside program similar to Cambridge’s. Everyone in the village would pay $2.60 a month, but only those who wanted to recycle would receive free containers.

Available in three sizes, the wheeled containers would go to the curb on the same day as trash pickup.

Eagle Enterprises already provides recycling bins for Orion and Western Township residents.

Located at the village maintenance shed on Fourth Street, the bins are emptied on Friday afternoons and full again on Mondays, Cooper said.

He stressed the village is not looking for another source of revenue.

Instead, the village is trying to provide a service with curbside recycling. No one will be forced to use it.

Resident Dale Stiles said he pays for services such as high-speed internet without asking anyone else to help him pay for it.

He recycles and is all for voluntary recycling, but he said he objects to requiring people to pay for it.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Stiles said, adding that he does not see glass bottles and other items on the road.

“It’s broke,” Cooper replied.

He said one reason he supports curbside recycling is that people who come down to Fourth Street and find the bins are full go ahead and leave their bags and boxes on the ground.

This is not what the board wants, he said.

Resident Lisa Newman said she usually takes her recyclable items down on Saturdays, only to find there is no room for them. She has no room to put them in garage, so they go into the trash.

She said she favors curbside recycling.

Resident Jennifer Smutzer said it is very frustrating to haul her recyclable items down to the bin, only to find it is full.

She puts her recyclables in the same vehicle her children and her groceries go in, and she would prefer to have the recyclables picked up at her house.

Who pays? How much?

Smutzer asked the board to adopt the mandatory fee for recycling.

People want to have curbside recycling without paying for it, Cooper said.

Orion’s current program is not free, he said. The village and Western Township split the costs of the bins on Fourth Street, and Orion’s share is $2,700 per year and likely to go up.

Emptying the bins twice a week would add to the $2,700 annual cost, Lawson said.

Every Orion resident pays for the bins, whether they use them or not, he said.

The proposed curbside recycling program would add $2.60 a month to each household’s water and sewer bill, Cooper said.

That works out to 65 cents a week, or less than a can of pop, he said.

Cooper said he had seen a Coal Valley resident using the bins.

“Is this fair to our taxpayers?” he asked.

Orion has no control over who uses the bins and what they put in them, the village president said.

Trustee Robert “Deano” O’Leary said he does not like requiring people to pay for recycling.

“I don’t like to have it shoved down my throat,” he said.

O’Leary said he recycles because he wants to.

If only those interested in having a container pay for curbside recycling, the cost would go up to $7.50 a month, Cooper said.

That’s fair, Stiles said.

Orion could pay for curbside recycling out of the general fund, but then the property tax levy would have to go up, Trustee Thom Sederquist said.

Eight hundred houses times $2.60 a month times 12 months would provide a lot of money that could be put to better use, Stiles said.

Proposal detailed

Cooper seems to be the only one with recycling on his agenda, Stiles said.

He asked if Orion or Eagle Enterprises suggested curbside recycling.

Cooper said he went to the meeting that introduced curbside recycling to Cambridge residents. He came away impressed.

He also spoke to Cambridge’s village president and other officials, and decided to invite Eagle Enterprises to submit a proposal to Orion.

Initially 38 percent of Cambridge residents received containers, but many others have signed up for them, Cooper said. After backordered containers arrive in August, 70 to 75 percent of households will have them.

Many Cambridge residents decided they wanted a container once they realized they had to pay for recycling, said Dwayne Peterson, owner of Peterson Disposal Service, Andover.

Answering a question from Stiles, Village Attorney John Ames said Orion would solicit bids from companies interested in providing curbside recycling.

Cooper pointed out that the board does not have to take the lowest bid. Trustees can take into account the details of the proposal.

Peterson said Eagle Enterprises is the only company providing curbside recycling on the Illinois side of the river.

With Eagle Enterprises, Orion residents would be able to recycle more items, Cooper said. Eagle would take glass, which Rock Island and Moline will not take.

Also, the Galva company furnishes the containers, while in some communities residents have to pay for theirs.

For Trustee Karl Kane, one notable feature of the Eagle program is that residents do not have to separate their recyclable items. Everything goes into one container.

Why now?

Resident Audi McAvoy asked why the village was looking into curbside recycling.

“Why not?” Cooper replied.

He read a list of 12 reasons to adopt the program, many of which are in his letter to the editor in this issue.

Stiles asked if Eagle Enterprises would report how much the company made from the recycled items it sold.

A board member replied that Eagle is a company trying to achieve a profit.

Requiring everyone to pay probably is not 100 percent fair, Cooper said. A single person who eats out all the time will not have much to recycle.

Everyone pays for road work, even if they never drive on the roads under repair, Cooper said.

Take cost out of the picture, Trustee Mike Dunne said. Consider the long-term impact of recycling. A lot of people doing a little bit will have a big effect on the future need for landfills, he said.

Additional material will be in next week’s issue.