Local Governments Hashing Out Agreement for Next Year’s Recycling

By Danny Hooley Posted November 23, 2014 at 11:39 pm

A Solid Waste Advisory Group representing Orange, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and UNC is working on a plan to fund curbside recycling for all concerned next year.

SWAG, as it’s called, needs to come up with a recommendation by March, because the current funding source dries up in June.

“We’ve been working on a new interlocal agreement, and we’ve gone through several iterarations,” said Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle at Wednesday night’s Assembly of Governments meeting.

She and fellow Solid Waste Advisory Group member Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt of Chapel Hill asked members of the four governing bodies of Orange, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough for more time to come up with a new interlocal funding recommendation for curbside recycling.

Kleinschmidt, Lavelle and others from SWAG had hoped to come into last week’s meeting with that recommendation, but talks are still ongoing. SWAG now hopes to have a recommendation by spring of next year.

That request for more time was granted unanimously.

SWAG has met four times between late August and early October since it was appointed with two members of each local governing body.

During that process, representatives from UNC and UNC Hospital were also invited to join in.

Back in June, Orange Commissioners voted to spend $2 million from the solid waste reserve fund to pay for rural and urban recycling pick-up for the next fiscal year.

But that mechanism comes to a halt on June 30, 2015.

Kleinschmidt told WCHL last week that he’s hopeful that a new agreement is near. He suggested there’s a spirit of cooperation engendered by the county’s actions in June.

“The county took a big risk,” said Kleinschmidt, “and I was really proud of them – with the leadership that’s on the Board of Commissioners right now. They went forward last year and got everybody those blue recycling carts, so that we could continue with curbside recycling.

“They dipped into their own solid waste funds to make sure that we could have curbside recycling in Chapel Hill and Carrboro for this year. And they had no promise that we were going to have an agreement on how we could move forward after this year is over.”

Lavelle told WHCL last week that she agrees with Kleinschmidt that progress is being made.

“I think we all are making good-faith efforts towards a new agreement,” said Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle. “I think that’s our objective. I think we’ve asked a lot of questions about, what are all the fiscal assumptions that kid of underlie the enterprise fund, and what’s the supporting data, if you will, for what the fees would be? So, we’re kind of working through that, and understanding that better.”

There’s definitely an incentive to get an agreement done. Since Orange County rolled out 18,000 blue recycling carts this past summer, curbside recycling has gone up 29 percent.

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