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Rincon OKs rate hike for recycling program
But city holds off on approving contract with provider
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Recycling is coming to Rincon residents — but how soon remains to be seen.

Rincon City Council members approved an increase in the garbage collection fees to account for recycling services, but they held off an approving an adjustment to the contract with sanitation provider Waste Management.

"We’ve had a lot of requests for recycling," said Rincon Mayor Ken Lee. "We wanted to make it as easy as we could to encourage participation in it."

Added Council member Levi Scott: "We have had a huge impact of people asking for it."

The new rates will be $14.25 for garbage collection per month in the city. The recycling proposal is an additional $3.51 to the base price of $10.47, and there is an administrative charge of 27 cents per month.

"I think we have as competitive a price as we can get," said interim city manager Wesley Corbitt.

Former council member Ken Baxley issued a few concerns about the recycling program and its cost — and what it could be costing others.

"I’m in support of recycling," he said. "I’ve been recycling for years."

But Baxley also noted that the Lions Club, which used proceeds from paper recycling to fund eyeglasses and eye exams for needy students, has reported a 30 percent decrease in its intake since Effingham County instituted recycling. Baxley added the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity also supplement their efforts through recycling proceeds.

"You’re taking money from one group and giving it to a private company," he said.

Baxley said the sanitation provider also is getting a break on the landfill tipping fees. He told council members that metal can be as much as $280 per ton. Paper, Baxley said, can bring in recycling profits, while recycling plastic is a break-even proposition. Recycling glass is more costly.

At $35 per ton in tipping fees, Waste Management could make $315 a ton off metal recycling, if the tipping fee is waived.

"Somebody is making money, and the citizens are paying for it," he said.

Mayor Lee said the council has discussed recycling in-depth.

"Many of the things you have brought up have been discussed among ourselves," he said. "We’ve had some of the same thoughts. We researched the options as best we could. We have not found anything that works ideally for everybody."

One thing Mayor Lee said the council wasn’t aware of was the effect recycling could have on charities and civic organizations that rely on recycling.

Baxley also stated his concerns about making the program mandatory for Rincon sanitation customers.

"I’m for voluntary recycling," he said. "The way I understand it, you have to pay it. It’s a mandatory fee. As a city, we like fees, because we don’t have property taxes."

The contract amendment with Waste Management includes the start of the Recycle Bank rewards program for those who participate in recycling. Those savings, through coupons, could save customers $138 a year, Corbitt said.

"They can use them for things they are already buying," he said.

The Recycle Bank rewards program helped sway at least one council member to back the recycling program.

"The coupons sold me, especially for the people on fixed income," said Council member Frank Owens.

But the more people who participate, the better a deal Waste Management will get on its tipping fee, Baxley said.

"I see it as a win-win for Waste Management, and not so much a win for the citizens," he said.

Council member Reese Browher asked if there was some way to include the charities and civic organizations who are recycling on the Recycle Bank rewards program, so customers could donate their savings to those efforts.

Corbitt said the city would conduct education about recycling with the citizens, and once the contract is approved, it could take at least 120 days to implement it. He also said the city may look at putting up a recycling center for larger items that won’t fit into a 96-gallon container.

"We hope this will be cost neutral to our citizens," he said.

Questions about Waste Management’s fuel surcharges led council members to table a pact with Waste Management. There are three-and-a-half years left on the city’s contract with Waste Management for sanitation services, and any approval for recycling would run until the end of the current service contract.