AUGUSTA — City councilors will vote Thursday on whether to end the curbside collection of recyclables.

A proposed order sponsored by Mayor David Rollins and four of the city’s eight city councilors would halt the city’s current recyclables collection as of May 1. The once-a-month service collects only a limited variety of materials, which must be sorted from each other. The use of service has dropped since the city began offering recycling options at Augusta City Center, the John Charest Public Works Facility off North Street and the Hatch Hill landfill.

Last year the curbside recycling program collected 120 tons at a cost of $879 per ton, compared to 160 tons at a cost of $113 a ton collected in the single-stream drop-off recycling program.

Since the city started the single-stream program in a partnership with ecomaine in March, usage of the curbside collection program, which does not accept as wide a variety of recyclable items as the single-stream program does, has dropped by 25 percent, according to Ward 3 City Councilor Patrick Paradis.

The same order also would expand rubbish pickup from its current 40 weeks per year to all 52 weeks of the year.

City Manager William Bridgeo said expanding the rubbish pickup into the weeks when recyclables are picked up now would essentially be “a wash, the labor cost will be about the same, and we already have the equipment.”

But those plans could change when city councilors start their annual budget deliberations, which generally begin in April, because some councilors want to look into creating a new, single-stream unsorted curbside recyclables service to take the place of the service that councilors might vote to scrap Thursday.

At-large Councilor Dale McCormick, during a lengthy and sometimes heated recycling discussion at last week’s council meeting, said the only way she could support eliminating the current curbside recyclables collection program is if councilors agree to consider creating a curbside single-stream recycling program as part of their upcoming budget deliberations.

She and Ward 2 Councilor Darek Grant both expressed support for considering replacing the current program with a single-stream recyclables collection program, which would cost about $100,000 more per year than the current program, according to an analysis by city staff.

Bridgeo said any councilor can propose any new programs he or she wishes, including single-stream recycling, in budget discussions. The order going to council for a vote Thursday that would eliminate the current program notes the council recycling subcommittee recommends studying the feasibility of creating a single-stream curbside recycling collection program.

“There is nobody here who doesn’t support recycling,” Mayor David Rollins said during last week’s discussion. “The question becomes (what is) the most cost-efficient way to deliver that to taxpayers. We’re all for it. The community is all for it. It’s just what makes sense, financially. Can we have two collection systems? I don’t know.”

The current recycling program will run until May 1, or as long as the city’s lone recycling collection truck lasts, whichever comes first.

“Everybody is in agreement we need several months from the (potential decision) to discontinue the curbside recycling service to educate the public so they know it’s coming,” Bridgeo said of why the program would continue until May 1.

Public Works Director Lesley Jones said the truck is expected to last through May, but has said previously it probably wouldn’t pass another inspection. So the city, to continue the current recycling program longer into the future, would have to spend about $50,000 to replace the truck’s rusted body. The council’s recycling subcommittee recommended the city not replace the truck body.

Councilors meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

In a related but separate vote, councilors also will consider adding a fourth single-stream recycling container for users of the drop-off recycling program, to be placed at Buker Community Center on Armory Street. It is estimated to cost an additional $8,400 a year to rent the container and have it hauled to ecomaine in Portland for processing when it is full.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

• Hear an update on a proposal to put a fishway on Togus Pond;

• Hear presentations on Spirit of America Foundation local winners;

• Consider numerous committee and board appointments; and

• Consider accepting a number of donations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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