By NATHAN GREGORY
Last year, participating citizens and businesses in Starkville recycled 295.25 tons of material, or 590,500 pounds. That’s approximately 243 pounds per each of the 2,425 people signed up with the city of Starkville’s recycling program. So far this year, 79.92 tons have been recycled.
The city has a contract with Waste Management to have the materials exported. Figures in the board of aldermen e-packet show the city paid Waste Management a total of $63,954.38 in exporting expenses in 2011. $21,087.83 has been spent so far this year. The money to pay those expenses comes from the city’s Sanitation and Environmental Services fund.
In her report on the status of the program to the board, Starkville Chief Operating Officer Lynn Spruill said the Starkville Sanitation and Environmental Services Department also collects at special events such as Cotton District Arts Festival, Bulldog Bash, Main Street Market and the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival.
Spruill said in her report recycling services are one of many new items in the Sanitation and Environmental Services budget. Spruill was reporting in place of Sanitation Services Director Sharon Boyd, who was absent from the meeting.
“With the reorganization of the sanitation department, we (now) have a rubbish division ... a landscape, landfill and then sanitation, and under sanitation we would include recycling, so all those are new to this budget year. We are now evaluating how those budgetary items are fleshed out,” she said.
There are no additional fees for citizens and businesses to recycle. Those monies are included in the $13 residential fee for garbage pickup each month. Sanitation employees pick up recyclables twice a month.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said while he’s pleased to see citizens and businesses recycling so much material, he has concerns over whether or not enough money is being collected to sustain the program.
“I think over the next little while there are some conversations that need to be had on this very item from a budgetary standpoint and the impacts of how we sustain it,” he said. “We’re definitely collecting a lot of recycling, and that’s a good thing. The thing that concerns me is the cost involved. It is a free service now because when we started the program we didn’t raise the waste service fee. I’m not convinced we’re collecting enough money to provide services that department provides. We’ve got to look at a financial model looking forward to continue the service we’re providing.”