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Granite Quarry drops recycling because of lack of participation

Staff report
GRANITE QUARRY ó Curbside recycling will be history starting July 1.
The curbside recycling program, which has drawn less than 10 percent participation, is a victim of overall increasing costs and limited resources.
Town Manager Dan Peters said the decision to cut recycling came after an extensive survey that found participation was well below what officials had believed. Previous estimates had put participation at 30 percent.
Under the contract with Waste Management, recycling costs the town $2.70 monthly per home. That’s $28,600 a year or equal to nearly 1.5-cents on the tax rate.
In addition to dropping recycling, the town is adding a $5 per month solid waste fee ó a charge to help offset the cost of garbage pickup.
The town is currently paying $125,000 a year for once-a-week curbside pickup. The solid waste fee is expected to generate around $65,000 or half of the overall cost of the garbage service.
The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen held several work sessions to craft a budget that keeps the current tax rate of 33 cents per $100 valuation.
The board unanimously approved the budget after a public hearing. No one spoke in opposition.
While keeping the current tax rate, the $1.5 million budget provides an average 3.75 per cent cost of living/merit pay increase for the town’s 14 full-time employees.
The budget also includes the addition of one full-time firefighter, giving the town three full-time firefighters. With working shifts of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, the department will now have fulltime staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The position has been posted and the town is currently taking applications.
The budget also adds another position in public works starting April 1, 2009.
Peters said the board opted to move $8,000 earmarked for leasing a car for the police department to the line item to pay for gasoline.
“If we don’t spend the money, it will go back into vehicle replacement … to lease a car,” said Peters.
Thus far, the town is staying within its gas budget for the current year, but Peters noted that aldermen added a hefty increase last June.
The new budget also includes an increase in part-time salaries for the Police Department to cover comp time and vacation time for the regular officers.
Overall, Peters said the 2009 budget was a very tough budget, which is built on taxes and fees with no savings or fund balance included.
“We tightened everywhere,” said Peters.
The town benefitted from a 9 percent growth in the tax base.
Officials are optimistic that growth will continue. Peters said while building is down, a major development on Faith Road is set to go forward. “They are still planning the first phase this year.”

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