July 29, 2014

Elyria
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Vote brings ‘pay-as-you-throw’ a step closer

ELYRIA — The county’s Solid Waste Management District’s Policy Committee approved a controversial “pay-as-you-throw” trash program Tuesday, but it’s still far from a done deal.
County commissioners, the city of Lorain and communities representing 60 percent of the county’s population must still sign off on the plan for it to become reality.
The biggest stumbling block likely will be Lorain, where Mayor Craig Foltin vehemently opposes the plan because it would limit the amount of trash residents would be allowed to throw out in any given week. Foltin’s representative on the Policy Committee, Don Romancak, the city’s chief planner, was the only member to vote against the proposal Tuesday.
“Currently, it’s still the administration’s policy that the plan doesn’t address all of its concerns,” he said as he left the meeting.
But Foltin might not be in a position to do anything to oppose the plan officially. He plans to leave office the first week of August to accept a position with Cuyahoga Community College and likely will be gone by the time City Council votes on the plan.
Policy Committee member Brian Parsons said the committee plans to meet with Lorain Council members to explain the benefits of the plan, which is expected to increase the amount of trash residents recycle by limiting how much they can throw away.
“I still think we have a tough road to hoe with Lorain, but I also think we still have time to change minds there,” Parsons said.
Two of the men who are looking to finish out the last few months of Foltin’s term — Safety Service Director Mike Kobylka and John Romoser, the Republican candidate for mayor — both said they have serious reservations about the plan as well. Kobylka said he plans to stand by Foltin’s policy if he takes over, but Romoser held out hope that he could be convinced to support the plan, or at least not veto it.
“I’m not going to say I would until I look into it a little more,” Romoser said. “I’m not necessarily going to rubber stamp everything.”
Councilman Tony Krasienko, D-at large, said he remains undecided about the program, but he’s willing to listen. Krasienko is the Democratic mayoral candidate.
“On face value, it seems like something that’s workable, but we need to learn all the pros and cons,’’ Krasienko said Tuesday.
Commissioner Ted Kalo, who also sits on the Policy Committee, said the commissioners will follow the will of the bulk of the county’s residents when the issue comes before them.
Pay-as-you-throw already has been implemented in LaGrange and LaGrange Township, doubling the recycling rate in the village alone, said Dave Kidder, area marketing manager for Allied Waste, which has pushed for the program to be adopted countywide.
Although complaints were common in the first few weeks, those have largely fallen off as people got used to the system, according to Allied. Parsons said Avon City Council expressed enthusiasm for the plan after he made a presentation and could move to the pay-as-you-throw, also known as a volume-based system, before the end of the year.
But that’s not to say that Lorain is the only holdout. New Russia Township trustee Dick Williams said when the trustees discussed it, they met stiff opposition from residents.
If the plan doesn’t gain approval from the commissioners, Lorain and the other communities, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency would step in and write one that would likely see the communities receive less grant funding than they do now, said Mike Greenberg, a consultant for the Solid Waste District.
It could also mean Allied would start raising rates in communities that don’t switch to the cart system and automated trucks it uses in LaGrange, Kidder said.
“Automation is going to become a reality as some point soon,” he said. “Are we going to force people to change? No, but it’s going to be significantly higher (cost) over the long haul.”
It would also mean the program would be implemented without the pilot programs and incentive grants that accompany the plan proposed by the Policy Committee.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.