City council nears final decision on mandatory recycling fee for Monument customers
Among considerations: bill subsidies, service options
by Carter Pape
The Times-Independent
Feb 07, 2019 | 1039 views | 0 0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two Monument Valley Waste Services employees stand behind the Times-Independent after emptying the dumpster on Friday, Feb. 1. Monument Valley’s contract with the City of Moab is up for renewal and expected to be voted on by city council .        Photo by Carter Pape
Two Monument Valley Waste Services employees stand behind the Times-Independent after emptying the dumpster on Friday, Feb. 1. Monument Valley’s contract with the City of Moab is up for renewal and expected to be voted on by city council . Photo by Carter Pape

Moab City Council is scheduled to vote next week on a proposal that could bring recycling services to the curbside of each Moab household and increase the monthly utilities bill for local residents and businesses.

The proposed contract was negotiated between Moab city staff and Monument Valley Waste Services and first presented to the City Council two weeks ago.

The recycling program would likely boost the rate of recycling in the city, according to City Manager David Everitt, and would be a major step toward reaching the city’s stated environmental goals.

However, residents like Sarah Melnicoff critique the plan for increasing costs to Moab residents. If the contract were approved, owners of residential properties inside city limits would have to pay $12 more each month if they do not already pay for the service through Green Solutions.

“I just think there’s better ways to attract people to recycling,” Melnicoff told the Times-Independent in a phone interview.

The increase in costs to Moab residents is associated in part with adding a recycling service, but according to Monument Valley, the company’s operational costs have also increased.

According to Monument Valley managing partner Dan Kirkpatrick, landfill transport and disposal costs have gone up in part due to increased “tipping” fees that landfills are charging.

The City of Moab said in a statement on social media that this is one reason commercial trash rates are increasing “significantly.”

Under the proposed contract, businesses would not be required to pay for recycling services because many of them do not have space for additional bins, according to city staff. However, this does not mean businesses will escape fee increases.

“Commercial rates as proposed are a significant increase, which in part is meant to help offset the cost of a residential recycling program, in part creates an incentive for commercial accounts to recycle more, and in part reflects increased landfill transport and disposal costs,” city staff said in the statement.

Council members discussed at their previous meeting the idea of subsidizing the increased cost of garbage and recycling. This could take multiple forms, including fee waivers for residents who exhibit financial hardship or overall lowering of costs of residential garbage and recycling services.

City staff including Everitt told the Times-Independent there is also a possibility that the city council could ask that the contract with Monument Valley be renegotiated such that residents could opt into or out of the recycling program.

Such a change would give residents an opportunity to forego recycling services and the associated fee altogether. However, according to Everitt, other municipalities that use opt-in recycling programs have lower participation than municipalities with opt-out programs or mandatory service.

The time for discussion and decision on these and other matters will be the city council’s regular meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 in the city council chambers. Members of the public will have an opportunity to address the council during the meeting regarding the proposed contract with Monument Valley.

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