CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill Town Council is cautiously moving forward with the proposed plan to partner with Orange County to provide weekly curbside recycling pick-up in town. Council members disagreed at a meeting Monday over how much leverage Chapel Hill would lose to the County if an inter-local agreement were entered into too quickly.

The Town is working on a June 30th deadline to renew or find another avenue for recycling services, which are currently provided by the County.

The County is on the fast track to award a contract outlining an independent firm to provide the recycling services for Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.

“I think that it is not inappropriate for the Council to make a statement effectively which is we are not willing to just outright support what you [the County] are doing in the absence of any rule guidance on the inter-local agreement,” said Council Member Matt Czajkowski.

Czajkowski asked town staff to prepare a report of where the County stands on the tentative inter-local agreement. He said he desired more clarification on what administrative fees the County will be charging.

“And we still don’t have the information from the County about what that incremental cost will be,” he said. “Even though I presume that they will be a good partner as well, they haven’t really given us much indication that they are capable of being a good partner.”

Council member Jim Ward encouraged moving forward with support for the tentative partnership plan, given the County’s investment in roll-out carts to provide the recycling services.

“As we approach the 30th of June, our leverage actually increases.  The county has already spent some version of $1 million dollars for these carts. They want this to work. As we move forward, they want these really to work. We need to be their partner,” Ward said.

Wendy Simmons, Solid Waste Services Manager for Chapel Hill, said that it is anticipated that County Commissioners will enter into a contract with an independent firm during a Board meeting on February 4.

Town staff recommended that the Council consider favoring a partnership with the County which stipulates that the Town has the ability to add provisions in the contract allowing the Council to change the frequency of recycling services as needed.

The firms that have submitted bids include Republic Services of North Carolina, TFC Recycling, Unity of the Carolinas, and Waste Industries.

The County’s recommendation was for a weekly collection, which conforms to current pick-up schedules, but will come at a higher cost.

The Town received a low bid of $3.68 monthly per unit for weekly pick-up, and a low bid of $2.44 for bi-weekly services. Town staff anticipated that the County will move forward with the lowest bid.

In comparison, the County’s current contract cost for weekly curbside recycling service is $3.73 per unit.

Council member Lee Storrow added that the Council could  consider several options in the future, including a “pay as you throw” option.

“My recycling bin is full every time I put it out, so even having a bi-weekly can would be appealing, but starting out with weekly makes sense,” Storrow said.

Simmons said that the County is expected to opt for weekly collection service with roll carts which would be offered beginning in June.

When a firm is decided upon, she said the contract will most likely be for five-years, with an option for one additional five-year term.

Once the inter-local agreement is formulated, it would then be returned to the Council for a formal vote.