Washington City officials want residents to have ample opportunity to opt out of recycling program

A blue recycle bin and trash can. The Washington County Solid Waste District is currently visiting municipalities in the county in order to get a new contact for trash and recycle pick up by Republic Services approved, St. George, Utah, July 9, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Though the Washington City Council recently gave its approval a 10-year agreement between the county and Republic Services for trash and recycle pick up, there has been a lingering concern among council members concerning the opt-out option attached to the proposed recycling program.

Blue recycle bin, location and date unspecified | Stock image, St. George News

Making sure city residents were adequately informed about their options was a topic of discussion during the council’s workshop meeting Wednesday. Issues related to the opt-out option and process also originally led to the council tabling the agreement in July.

“I think the worry stems from the last time when (the process) was a little ambiguous,” Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson told St. George News Thursday.

The county’s current recycling contract, which the city adopted along with other municipalities in 2015, expires Jan. 31, 2021 and will be picked up by Republic Services afterward.

Individuals who opted out of the 2015 program originally would have had to opt out again under the new one, which was a sticking point for some City Council members. After continuing discussion with the Washington County Solid Waste District, households that opted out of the 2015 contract will be able to have that status grandfathered in under the new contract.

The Washington County Solid Waste “BLUCAN” program cans located in Santa Clara, Utah, June 17, 2019 | File photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

Individuals who choose to opt out of the new program can do so between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30. Those who opt out will be able to carry that status with them if they end up moving to a new home within Washington City, but not if they move to a new city in the county like Hurricane or St. George.

“If the new city’s policy is to be opted in, they’re in,” Neilson said.

In order to make city residents aware they have the chance to back out of the pending recycling program, the city plans to issue notices in its monthly utility bills and city newsletter via mail, as well as post notices on the city’s website and social media accounts.

Rate comparisons for municipalities in Washington County for trash and recyclable pick up over the next 10 years as presented in a contract proposed by Republic Services. | Image courtesy of Washington City, St. George News

While the City Council has been adamant in its desire to make sure people who don’t want to be in the recycling program have ample opportunity to respond accordingly, the overall number of people enrolled in the program will determine the overall cost.

Under the current contract, regular trash removal in Washington City overall – including Republic’s fee and county and city administrative fees – is $12.60. The current recycling fee brings that up to $15.09.

Under the new contract, the cost for the first year of service, minus recycling fees, jumps to $12.90. An estimated 2.5% annual increase over the next decade increases the trash fee to $14.62, barring any increases in administrative fees during that time. An annual recycling change – which will be based on the number of participants within the program – will bring the total monthly cost to $19.12 in the first year and $22.06 by the 10th.

A breakdown of rates for trash and recyclable pick up over the next 10 years as proposed by Republic Services to Washington County. | Image courtesy of Washington City, St. George News

The project costs of the recycling program are divided into three tiers.

  • Tier 1, which would be over 51% enrollment, starts at $4.91 and increases to $6.13 by Jan. 1, 2030.
  • Tier 2, 41%-50% enrollment, starts at $5.35 and increases to $6.68 by Jan. 1, 2030.
  • Tier 3, 34%-41% enrollment, starts at $5.91 and increases to $7.38 by Jan. 1, 2030.

Between 64,000 and 65,000 residences are served by the county’s solid waste district, with around 52,000 presently enrolled in the recycling program.

If new enrollment dips below 34%, the new program will not be financially feasible for Republic Services to continue.

While the city does its part to inform residents about the pending recycling program, the Washington County Solid Waste District will also be engaged in its own information campaign to spread word of it countywide.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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