LaVerkin jumps on curbside recycling wagon, plans different approach; interim council position opens

LaVerkin Bridge State Route 9
LaVerkin Bridge, LaVerkin, Utah, January 2013 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

LAVERKIN — The LaVerkin City Council voted Wednesday to approve a partnership with Dixie Waste Services to implement a curbside recycling program in the city, something that has been in discussion across the county in recent months.

While the council passed the ordinance agreeing to participate in the recycling program, they did not pass the second ordinance that goes with that, which would determine whether the city would have mandatory recycling or an “opt-out” option.

While the council members agreed that the best choice for the city would be to write an ordinance with the option to opt out of the program, they decided to deviate from the sample ordinance that the Washington County Solid Waste Board provided.

The Solid Waste District’s ordinance would give residents 60 days to opt out, and would only apply to residents currently living in LaVerkin, and at the house they opted out in.

Councilmember Chantelle Browning was the only person who voted against the ordinance to join the program, and she expressed her concerns about the change following the vote.

“The reason I voted ‘no’ is because in maybe just the last four months, how many taxes and service fees have we voted on?” she said. “All of these things are going to add up, … so if we have gone ahead and made this agreement with them, it has to be opt out. … We can’t be forcing anything on anybody, especially when there’s money involved.”

If the city was going to approve the program, she said, they should deviate from the sample ordinance to let new residents or residents who move still have the choice to opt out, instead of having them grandfathered in.

Browning, along with councilmember Ken Hooten, expressed concerns about residents who might find themselves financially strapped with the addition to their monthly utility bills.

I’m all for a recycling program but I also know that there are families out there, who every dollar counts for them,” he said. “So if you raise their utility bill, for instance, it can be an issue.”

Once the curbside recycling program actually starts early next year, residents who have service will see an addition of about $3.62 to $4 on their monthly bills.

The amount depends on whether the service is mandatory or optional, Solid Waste District Manager Neil Schwendiman said, and whether the city decides to add an administrative fee.

For cities that make recycling mandatory, he said, the monthly cost to each household will be $3.62, an amount determined by Dixie Waste. The base rate for optional service, because there will likely be less participants, will be $3.82, although the city would have an option to add an administrative fee. St. George is an example of this, as they are looking to bring the total amount up to $4, taking $0.18 from every bill to help pay the wages for someone to keep track of what households are opted in to the service.

However, if 70 percent of the households in participating cities opt in, Schwendiman said, the price will drop to a $2.94 base rate.

Hooten said he was concerned that with the price of recycling being unstable currently, that would translate to higher costs in the future.

While it is possible, Schwendiman said, the Solid Waste District hopes to make money, which they will then give back to the communities participating, or, worst case scenario, the cities will be charged $5 for each ton of recycling picked up, compared to over $15 per ton to bury trash in a landfill.

As for the actual recycling bins, Schwendiman said, they will be picked up on the same day of the week as trash is picked up, but every other week, instead of weekly.

The bins will be marked with the materials that should be thrown in — paper, plastic, metal and cardboard.

Because Dixie Waste can’t accept glass through the curbside bins, and because of some towns’ decisions to make the service optional, they will leave the community “binnies” around the county.

The council plans on discussing possible options for an opt-in service at the next meeting Aug. 19.

Vacated council seat, interim candidacy; municipal election

City administrator Kyle Gubler announced the resignation of councilmember Ray Justice, now in effect, as Justice left his council position to take a job in Missouri. Justice’s candidacy for re-election in the November municipal election has also been withdrawn, Gubler said.

The council now has to fill the position for the rest of the year, Gubler said, so the city is accepting applications, or Declarations of Candidacy, to fill the vacated position for the remainder of Justice’s term, specifically from Sept. 2 through Dec. 31.

Applicants can declare their candidacy for the interim term by speaking to Gubler directly at the city offices during business hours between Aug. 10 and Aug. 27.

During the Sept. 2 council meeting, Gubler said, the council will review the candidates for the interim position and vote in the new councilmember, whose position will take immediate effect.

The municipal election for LaVerkin City now has five candidates running for three council seats; there is no primary election.  The candidates are: Micah T. Gubler, Richard M. Hirschi, Darshan Chandulai Joshi, Debbie Lee and Randy Leo Reeve.

Other business

The council also voted unanimously to approve a rezoning of a lot at the corner of 200 North and 180 West from a residential to a commercial lot.

The health contract for the 2015-16 year also passed unanimously.

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