July 28, 2014

Elyria
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‘Pay as you throw’ is trashed


Lorain Council’s vote to cost county millions

LORAIN — City Council shot down a volume-based trash collection program Monday night, a vote that will cost the city and other communities in Lorain County millions of dollars in recycling incentives.

The plan, commonly called “pay as you throw,” would have given the city $1.5 million over three years to switch its residents either to a cart-based system that required garbage to fit into a provided bin or other volume-based programs designed to encourage recycling by limiting how much trash could be discarded.

The plan was being sold countywide by the Lorain County Solid Waste Policy Committee, and it needed Lorain to sign on as the city with the largest population. Population-based incentives were on the table for the other areas of Lorain County, too.

Amherst, Avon, Brownhelm Township, Grafton, LaGrange, Oberlin, Sheffield Lake, Sheffield and South Amherst had already approved the plan. And on Monday night, the Elyria, Vermilion and Avon Lake councils unanimously approved the “pay as you throw” program.

Dan Billman, executive director of the county Solid Waste Management District, said Monday night that he’ll meet today with the county commissioners to determine whether to ask the Lorain Council to reconsider before Wednesday, the deadline for the community to approve the plan and still receive the incentives.

“I cannot believe that Lorain would vote this down,” Billman said. “It’s incomprehensible. Unbelievable.”

Communities that already use the cart program can continue, but they will not receive the incentive money, Billman said.

And worse? The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will impose its own solid waste plan onto the county and, as it has done in other places, will give communities less than $50,000 a year for recycling, Billman said.

The cart system wasn’t the only option on the table for Lorain that would have allowed it and the other communities to collect the incentive money.

Another option was a sticker-based program where residents pay for colored stickers to mark their trash based on the volume.

Another option — which would pay the city slightly less than the $1.5 million over the three years — would have been to implement a plan chosen by the Council on a trial basis for 900 homes.

Had the Council approved pay as you throw Monday, it would have had up to three years to pick which version of the program it wanted to implement.

Using the cart system, only one trash collector is needed to move a robotic arm and pick up each cart. Allied Waste supports the plan because it has been losing money through worker’s compensation costs related to employees being injured lifting heavy trash cans and bags, according to Dave Kidder, area marketing manager for Allied Waste.

“Allied told us they’re bringing the cart program here or people will pay an exorbitant amount of money,” Billman said. “No matter if Allied keeps the contract or another company comes in, companies have to go to this system if they want to stay in business.”

The plan was defeated by a 6-to-3 vote by the Lorain Council.

Those voting against it were: Tony Krasienko, D-at large, David Wargo, D-1st Ward, Phil Betleski, D-2nd Ward, Greg Holcomb, D-6th Ward, Micky Silecky, D-7th Ward, and Craig Snodgrass, D-8th Ward.

Councilmen Bret Schuster, D-4th Ward, and Eddie Edwards, D-5th Ward, were absent.

Krasienko has said all along that he didn’t think the program was a good fit for Lorain. He reiterated those concerns Monday night.

“I don’t believe it meets the needs of Lorain,” he said after the meeting. “It doesn’t solve our concerns over illegal trash dumping, how it will impact our senior citizens and not to mention it puts us at a big disadvantage in going out for contract with (another trash company).”

Krasienko said he plans to work with the state EPA to devise another plan and hopefully still keep the incentives intact.

Holcomb said he voted against it because he felt the city was being forced to choose a plan and questioned whether recycling was the true motivator since there weren’t more options made available.

But Councilman Dan Given, D-at large, who voted for the plan along with Councilman David Escobar, D-3rd Ward, and Councilwoman Kathy Tavenner, D-at large, called the fact that Council voted against the plan ridiculous.

“I’m speechless,” Given said afterward. “Council was so shortsighted that it couldn’t see past the blue garbage containers. They threw away $1.5 million. That in itself warrants doing the plan."

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.