Recycling main topic at Cresco Council

CRESCO - A large number of business owners and residential customers attended the Sept. 19 City Council meeting to get some answers on the closing of the Hawkeye Recycling Center after the last council meeting on Sept. 7.
Julian, Lucas and Ross Merritt have represented Hawkeye Sanitation & Recycling at several recent council meetings, including on Sept. 19.
[Backstory: The issue started earlier this summer when Hawkeye Sanitation started billing for heavy commercial properties. The City of Cresco is still getting compensated for billing out residential and light commerial businesses.
Hawkeye management found the commercial properties were not getting charged enough for their service. They sent letters out, letting customers know rates were going to raise.
For some businesses the rate raised substantially. Those businesses started asking City Hall if they could find an outside hauler to pick up their garbage. The City attorney looked over the contract and found that residential garbage and recycling was exclusive to Hawkeye Sanitation but the contract for commercial garbage was a “grey area.”
At the Sept. 7 Council meeting members voted 4-1 (Alex Fortune, Rich McConnell, Gary Kriener and Jan Carman for and Amy Bouska against) to allow outside haulers into the City limits. The following day, the recycling plant, which had been open 24/7 was closed and a sign posted, “Closed to the public due to city contract changes.”
This left many city and country folks wondering what to do with their recycling.]
Through several conversations on Sept. 19, it was surmised the big problem with recycling was in regards to cardboard.
The material is not allowed in landfills, so nobody can throw it in their garbage or dumpsters. They either have to pay for a separate cardboard dumpster/bin or bring it into the recycling center. Since there is a charge for the dumpster/bin many businesses opted to bring it to the facility themselves.
Phil Henry of O’Henry’s explained his situation. “I take a lot of cardboard down there because at one time, you went from free pick up to $100-175 per month. At that time, I thought that for $175 a month I could take it down there. 
“At that time, in my ignorance, I’m assuming you are making money off cardboard because you’re selling it for $40 a bale. Me. I’m feeling like I’m helping you guys because I’m giving you a deal with the free labor, the free gas on my own. I figured it was a profit for you guys.”
Hawkeye on the other hand, has been allowing businesses that had large and small amounts of cardboard to bring it in for free, when in reality, it costs them money for labor of sorting it and bundling it into bales.
McConnell asked, “How hard is it for you to charge them when they drop it off?”
Ross answered, “We are trying to figure out a fee. We can’t monitor all the people coming in. Our request is to talk to businesses. We are trying to figure this out.”
But the recycling problem is not just cardboard.
Bouska stated, “It is a problem with some residents. One is a family of five. They can’t get everything into the [recycling] tote and have religiously taken the excess out to the recycling center. And now they don’t have a choice but to put everything except cardboard into the trash.”
Julien said, “We are currently working on a solution so that we have better cash flow for recycling to work for us. Recycling has changed. Comingle takes a lot more manpower.”
[Also this summer, new totes were purchased by Hawkeye, blue for recycling and green for garbage. Hawkeye requires the recycling to be comingled in the new totes.]
Fortune asked, “But didn’t you figure that into your costs?”
The answer, “That was never included in our price.”
Julien commented, “We are trying to come up with a plan to get the city and the county to split the cost to pay for access to [recycling], if the city is open to that.”
Bouska observed, “I think what you are feeling here is a bunch of frustration from a lot of people, including the city. You say you are working on stuff. We would urge you to work quickly.”
Kriener added, “How long before we can have a proposal on the table for pricing  figures. What’s it going to take to get this back into working condition, rather than point fingers at each group? What do we do to go forward from here?”
Hawkeye agreed to have a proposal by Sept 28.
• In other business from the meeting, Council members approved a parade permit for Santa’s Holiday Parade, on Nov. 25.
• Public Works Director Nate Widell reported the EV (Electric Vehicle) charging station at Fareway was to be operational by National Drive Electric Day on Friday, Sept. 23. In addition, the water department was to flush hydrants on Oct. 6-7.
• Police Chief Tim Ruroden thanked everyone who helped the department out with its free movie and games night on Sept. 17. He also mentioned the two officers at the Academy were doing good.
• Kelly O’Donnell of V&V Insurance explained the new policy. He noted the City has $29 million in commercial property, which includes $25.356M for buildings, $3.394M for personal property and $2.83M in extras, such as statues and street lights.
He said some properties are undervalued, such as the Theatre, which is set at $2.8M but with everything inside is closer to $4.5M in replacement value. EMC will do a property assessment in the next month or so.
With a a blanket coverage of $31M for extra costs, the Theatre could withstand a devastating fire and the extra funds would kick in. But if a tornado went through and took out the Theatre and other properties, the insurance would not cover all the extras.
• All Cresco City Council meetings are recorded and can be found on homepage under Cresco City Council meetings on You Tube.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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