Our Opinion: Public’s voice still needed on recycling

Published 10:26 am Thursday, May 14, 2015

To many people, the Mower County board’s decision to seek bids for a proposed change from sorted to single-sort recycling may come as a sign that a switch is imminent.

But the discussion is far from over, and the board will next weigh the simplicity of single-sort recycling versus the anticipated increase in recycling costs.

During those talks, the public will need to speak out about its opinions.

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So far, board members and county officials have said most residents who’ve spoken out have favored single-sort recycling.

The board unanimously approved a set of bid specifications Tuesday to open the bidding process for waste haulers to apply for the potential contract to pick up Mower’s recycling. Bids will be due by 1 p.m. on June 18.

Then the discussion begins again as the board will have 30 days to award the work to a bidder, should it vote to move forward.

Once the bids are in, the board will need to weight the anticipated cost increases. While most community feedback has mostly favored switching to single-sort recycling, County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said the board may wait to see if that feedback changes once the bids outline cost increases.

Currently, all residential properties pay $16 to $18 a year for curbside recycling as part of county property taxes, whether they recycle or not. The single-sort fee would also come off property taxes, but county officials say it will cost more. They’ve estimated it could cost $4.25 to $5 a month — $51 to $60 a year.

The county board has a track record of being cost-conscious. For the board to back the change and a sizable increase in recycling costs, it’s going to need to hear from the public.

Now more than ever, the public will need to weigh the pros and cons before speaking out in June.

Recycling is currently handled by the county, which requires plastics, glass and aluminum cans, and paper to be separated. If the county switches to single-sort, all residential properties would enter the program and pay a yearly fee for recycling, which would be picked up and disposed of every other week by a contractor.