County commission to vote on recycling levy

August 9, 2018

HUNTINGTON—The Cabell County Commission will vote on whether to place a recycling levy on the upcoming general election ballot in order to aid the Cabell County Solid Waste Authority’s recycling program, which has experienced many setbacks over the years.

The commission meets at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, in the Cabell County Commission chambers at the Cabell County Courthouse in Huntington.

Mark Buchanan, director of the Cabell County Solid Waste Authority, said the levy is similar to the one that was proposed and failed two years ago. He added that it will cost most households roughly $3 each year and generate a total of $300,000 annually.

Buchanan said a portion of the money would be used to build two additional gated recycling drop-off sites in the county, similar to the one located in Huntington’s West End, as well as pay employees to maintain the sites and the program. The funds would also be used to support recycling efforts of municipalities within Cabell County.

“I’m excited about the prospect of bringing recycling back to Cabell County,” Buchanan said.

If the commission votes in favor of the recycling levy, the next step would be to place the levy on the general election ballot to allow the residents of Cabell County to decide whether it’s a program they would be willing to pay for.

“I’m for people voting on it,” Commission President Bob Bailey said. “A lot of people like to recycle, and if we don’t put

it on the ballot I think we take away their right to vote on anything, and that’s not good.”

Two years ago, when the recycling levy was first brought to the Cabell County Commission, Bailey was the only commissioner who came out in favor of the levy.

Commissioner Nancy Cart-mill said she will continue to oppose the recycling levy because it uses the remainder of the levying authority the county has.

“I would not vote to give any entity the right to have all of our levying power money,” she said. “I think that the needs of the county are absolutely too great right now.”

Cartmill said the county is $2.6 million behind on payments to the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority for Cabell County prisoners housed in the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.

She added that they might need to use their levying authority to pay for the purchase of new voting machines approved by the commission in June. The total cost for the machines is about $2.4 million, or just under $300,000 a year, the same amount the recycling levy would raise annually.

She added that the municipalities should be held financially responsible for recycling programs.

According to state code, Huntington — and any other city with more than 10,000 residents — is required to have a curbside recycling program. The law was enacted Oct. 18, 1993.

Cartmill said she thinks recycling is important, and would be more in favor of a recycling levy that does not use the remainder of the county’s levying authority.

Cabell County Commissioner Jim Morgan, who was not on the commission when the recycling levy was initially proposed, said he supports countywide recycling but was on the fence as to whether he would vote in favor of the proposal Thursday.

Morgan said he’s been made aware of the effort made by the city of Huntington to implement a curbside recycling pilot program and felt that city and county officials should sit down and talk about their respective recycling programs prior to a vote to avoid doubling up on services and fees.

“Rather than rush into this, maybe we ought to step back again. We should have stepped back two years ago when this failed, but I guess we really didn’t,” he said.

Bailey said the deadline to have the levy placed on the November ballot is less than two weeks away.

The Solid Waste Authority began its drop-off recycling program in 2011 with 37 bins at eight locations. That program slowly dwindled as funding from local municipalities dried up. Now the program is completely supported by grants and the $75 yearly fee users pay to use the West End drop-off site.

The Solid Waste Authority debuted mobile recycling trailers in January, which allow residents to drop off cardboard, aluminum cans, tin cans and paper for free.

In 2016, when recycling bins were still located throughout Cabell County, nearly 1,000 tons of material were recycled, according to data provided by the Solid Waste Authority.

That figure dropped to 607 tons in 2017 as recycling options dwindled again.

In 2018, Buchanan said they are on track to recycle about 333 tons of material.

“Rather than rush into this, maybe we ought to step back again. We should have stepped back two years ago when this failed, but I guess we really didn’t.”

Jim Morgan

Cabell County commissioner

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