Recent Ruling Leaves OC Recycling Program In Limbo
“Unless the legislature considers changes to the statutes, we have to find another methodology to fund recycling, especially curbside recycling,” said County Manager Frank Clifton.
Currently, the county provides curbside recycling pick-up to about 13,000 rural residents, as well as all single-family homes and apartments in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.
The service is funded through a series of fees that are levied along with the county’s annual property tax bill. Those bills were due back in January, meaning the recycling program is fully funded for another year, but given the recent court ruling, the county will not levy the fee again unless granted permission by the General Assembly.
Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil said that Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough are considering some type of municipal collaboration that would exclude Orange County.
“We were assuming we could get the same level of service for less cost because of our density and because of our ability to integrate the program with things like pay-as-you-throw and our other collections,” said Stancil. “For the towns now, solid waste is a big core service, so it’s a real way for us to gain some efficiency.”
A third possibility would be to create an independent solid waste authority, along the same lines as OWASA, to handle trash and recycling.
County Board Chair Barry Jacobs urged elected officials to look beyond the immediate issue and come together on a long-term solid waste plan.
“It seems like the towns and the county, although they’re speaking to one another, they’re not really planning together. And I’m really disappointed in that,” said Jacobs. “We’re talking, for instance, about a waste transfer station. Why isn’t the county part of that conversation? I don’t even think we’re welcome to be part of that conversation. Why is that? Why are we not as elected officials meeting to find solutions that are joint solutions? How are we going to have a comprehensive system if we’re meeting in separate realms? I don’t get it.”
But Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said while a shared solution sounds good, it’s in the best interest of Chapel Hill taxpayers to explore all options.