After deciding last month not to decide on a long-term option for funding rural curbside recycling pick-up, Orange County Commissioners on Tuesday wrangled with the question of how to keep the program going in the short term.
“We have to choose from a basket of bad options, and whether we choose the worst bad option or a little bit better bad option, we’re going to choose a bad option for this next year,” said Vice-Chair Earl McKee.
The board on April 15 did not opt for either a solid waste service district tax or a subscription service to pay for recycling pick-up for 13,700 homes in unincorporated Orange County.
Now, Commissioners are considering how to come up with $630,000 to fund the service for the next year. Possible options include drawing from the solid waste reserve fund, raising the property tax rate, or increasing household fees to cover the full operating costs of the solid waste convenience centers, which would then free up other funding for recycling pick-up.
Although the County Manager recommended using reserve funds, some on the board, including Bernadette Pelissier, worried town residents would be unfairly subsidizing rural services.
“Actually, the towns would be paying three times,” said Pelissier. “They’re paying from reserves, they’re paying from the general fund for the convenience centers, and then they’re paying the recycling fee in the town.”
But Interim County Manager Michael Talbert said at this point, there are no ideal solutions.
“Just to be clear, we know it is not equitable. None of the options are equitable,” said Talbert. “I don’t know how to say it any other way, none of them are equitable. They all benefit one portion of the population more than the other.”
The board will likely pick from a menu of options at a meeting on June 3. Also on June 3, commissioners will revisit a draft of a preliminary interlocal agreement between the towns and county to govern how solid waste and recycling will be handled in the future.