Recycling Center Running Out of Money, and Time in Lancaster
By Peter Jasinski
LANCASTER -- With growing operational costs and dwindling cash savings, volunteers at the Lancaster Recycling Center are looking to town officials to help prevent the facility’s closure.
“What I anticipate they’re going to be doing is discussing over the next couple weeks whether they find it appropriate for the town to cover funds at least in the near term to cover the financial gap that would prevent the center from continuing to operate,” said Larry Shoer, the center’s volunteer administrator.
Shoer announced in May that the center had been running a monthly deficit of about $1,000 and that it was burning through $10,000 of a revolving fund that would likely keep the operation going until mid-2019. Though the center has been open for decades, the Chinese government’s 2017 decision to put tighter restrictions on the recycled material it accepts had prevented fewer materials from being processed and driven up operational costs of recycling centers throughout the U.S.
Shoer said subsidization by the town would help with the problem, and Selectman Mark Grasso even spoke in favor of exploring the option at Monday’s board meeting, however Shoer and other town officials have pointed out that it may not be the most appropriate option.
“I think the problem is going to escalate,” Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco said Monday. “The recycling market is right now hitting its cost escalation and I think you’re going to see that continue.”
The idea of supplying the center with $10,000 to continue operations was broached by the board, but Shoer said Tuesday that it might not help the center’s long-term problems.
“What may be the right decision now might not be the right decision later if the costs continue to change,” he said.
However, the idea was not totally ignored by the board.
“I don’t want to be so quick to dismiss us subsidizing the cost, especially if it is only $10,000,” Grasso said Monday. He also suggested the board consider having a member of the town’s Department of Public Works take over some of the center’s administrative duties after Shoer’s planned departure from his current role.
Further complicating the issue, Shoer said, is how the responsibilities of the volunteer administrator have grown over the years, making it harder to find someone to take the job. However, he did say that he has had conversations with residents that might be interested in replacing him in a comparatively limited capacity.
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