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City to continue curbside recycling with increased cost

By Liz Moomey

liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Households will have to pay an extra 94 cents per month for recycling after the city council approved a new contract Tuesday night.

The current recycling provider’s contract — Waste Management — was up. The city will begin a contract with Republic Services, a nationwide waste contractor, starting July 1. The price to recycle will be $5.47 per household per month. The contract requires that materials thrown in the recycling bin will be recycled and should not be disposed of in any landfill.

Salisbury City Council members debated whether the city should continue recycling services at all, especially with the added cost on citizens during the economic fallout from COVID-19.

Councilman David Post inquired if the city could delay the contract and not provide recycling for a year. 

“It’s not a cost to us,” said Councilman Brian Miller. “It’s a cost to the citizen.”

City Manager Lane Bailey said in his previous manager job, Lenoir, the city got rid of curbside recycling and went to a collection center.

“That was one of the biggest regrets I had during my 11 year time in Lenoir,” Bailey said. “I do think we have a very large segment of the community — I’m part of that segment — that cares deeply about the environment and deeply about recycling. I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do, but I also understand there is a cost to it.”

Mayor Karen Alexander asked if the city could conduct a survey and let it be a choice for citizens.

Bailey said the council members could wait a week to poll citizens about whether they wanted the city to continue to recycle.

Public Works Director Craig Powers said 80% of citizens participate in the city’s recycling program.

Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins said, with the 80% participation rate, recycling is the culture of the community.

Councilman David Post questioned what 80% meant.

“Everyone is paying for it. So everyone has the option to recycle anyway,” Post said. “If you’re paying for it, why wouldn’t you do it? If you go to the movie theater and pay for the popcorn, you don’t have to eat it but they hand you a bag of popcorn. You say ‘hey wow 80% of the people in the movie theater, even though 100% are paying for it.’ I don’t believe that really proves anything.”

Bailey said the number means that a recycling can is left on the curb at least once a month. 

Miller said the increase per household is a dollar more a month, an annual increase of $12 per household.

The contract was approved with a 4-1 vote, with Post voting no. Post said he wasn’t “anti-environmental” but wanted more time to consider.

Public works staff will work with Republic Services and the city’s current contractor to remove old bins and deliver new ones.

Other agenda items:

• Alexander proclaimed Earth Day as Wednesday. She also proclaimed Better Hearing and Speech Month as May.

• Bailey informed the council that the city received additional Community Development Block Grant money, $168,950, as a part of the CARES Act. The council will hold a public hearing on May 5. For more information, visit salisburync.gov/cdbg.

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