Utility Commission rejects county recycling request

Utility Commission rejects county recycling request
August 17
04:03 2017

The City/County Utility Commission turned down a request from Forsyth County to fund its curbside recycling service during a Monday, Aug. 14, meeting.

The request would’ve cost the Utility Commission nearly $3.5 million to fund curbside recycling service in unincorporated areas of Forsyth County for four years. The county’s subscription recycling service for those areas ended this year when the current service provider didn’t renew its contract due to losing money on the service, which had a low participation rate. The county is now looking at universal, mandatory recycling in unincorporated areas, but hit a legal snag when it discovered state statute doesn’t give counties the authority to charge households for recycling. The County’s UtilityCommission request would have funded the service, giving the General Assembly time to fix the statute.

“The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission agrees universal curbside recycling benefits Forsyth County, however staff recommends denial of the request,” said Utility Commission member James Ruffin, who read the resolution to reject the request.

The rejection was passed unanimously by the commission, whose members are appointed by the city and county. Utilities staff gave numerous reasons for the recommendation against it. There’s been an inter-local agreement for years between the city and county that says recycling can only be funded out of their general funds, There were also concerns that the $3.5 million could destabilize the solid waste fund and could hinder capital expenditures needed at solid waste facilities.  It would also be giving households a free service they’d have to start paying for eventually.

“We want to partner with the county as much as possible and we think recycling is a good thing and it’s important, we just don’t think this is the mechanism to do it, so we’ll continue working on other ways to partner,” said Utilities Director Courtney Driver.

County Commissioner Vice-Chair Don Martin said that he understood the Utility Commission’s decision and, in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best way to fund recycling.

“I think that’s the best decision from the Utility Commission stand point, and I think we need to look at other avenues to try to approach the curbside recycling issue,” said Martin.

He said that the county will be looking at other solutions, such as getting the General Assembly to pass a legal fix soon or combining recycling with curbside garbage service when the current contract for county garbage service expires next year.

Forsyth County had better results in its request for funds for a regional wastewater lift station in conjunction with Davie County to provide wastewater service to the Idols Road Business Park that the county is developing near Tanglewood Park. The Utility Commission approved a $1 million loan for the project, with no interest, payable within 10 years of completing the project. The county also has a Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of nearly  $4.5 million for the project.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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