Christiansburg leaders took another step this week to bring curbside recycling to the community, but it didn’t come without additional fees being placed on town residents.
Tuesday night during its regularly scheduled meeting, council approved a contract with a waste company to pick up the recycling that will be left in front of each home within the town.
A contract with Waste Industries will start on July 1, with service to residents starting that week. Garbage fees will increase from $17 to $22, and at least one councilman expressed some concern on how the amount will affect citizens who are already being hit hard by other fees, taxes and even just making ends meet on a monthly basis.
Sam Bishop felt the increase could be hard on certain individuals, especially senior citizens. He asked if there was a way those individuals that saw fit could opt out of recycling. Staff told him that would be tough to do and hoped the program could be town wide and not exclude anyone.
The increase, according to Town Manager Randy Wingfield, is to cover the cost of the curbside recycling, and would prevent an increase in the subsequent years of the contract, while covering ongoing administrative costs to manage the program and monitor the contractors.
Still Bishop was fearful what type of burden is being handed down to residents. He was the only person to vote against the increase, but did vote with his colleagues to approve the contract with Waste Industries to provide the service for the next three years.
According to town spokeswoman Melissa Demmitt, Waste Industries will charge the town $3.90 per town-billed service location each month for the first 12 months.
“Rates in subsequent years will be renegotiated and agreed to by the parties in writing. We’re still discussing with Waste Industries the possibility of adding recycling dumpsters for apartment complexes, which would be an additional cost to the town,” she said.
As part of the recycling, council also agreed to a change to the definition of solid waste within the town code that will allow curbside recycling.
Mayor Michael Barber said the idea of offering curbside recycling has long been a goal for the town, and that it speaks directly to its Destination 2022 vision of being a “clean and green, healthy and safe” community.
“We know our community is recycling regularly. Our five recycling collection sites are almost always full. We want to offer this service to continue encouraging this good behavior and to make it easier for our residents to do it. It’s another way we are looking to improve the quality of life in our community,” he said.
Councilman Steve Huppert felt this measure was one of the best things council has done since he began serving.
“We will be taking some of the waste out of the waste stream, and this is just another thing that makes a better quality of life for the town and its residents,” he said.
The recycling containers will be distributed to residents by Waste Industries prior to July 1.
Officials from the company said they would collect recycling every two weeks and would provide homeowners with a calendar to show the pickup dates. Waste Industries will also work with residents that might not be able to move the large container to the curb. In those instances, the company’s staff would pick it up from the person’s doorstep.
Public works will continue to pick up trash on a weekly basis, but councilman Brad Stipes said the town needs to examine privatization of those services too.
“I think it’s something we should consider, especially if it would save us money in the long run, and curbside recycling could give us a better idea of doing that,” he said.
Residents should expect more information on the curbside recycling effort to start appearing in their mailbox in the next month.
Waste Industries currently has business locations in Christiansburg and Wytheville. The company has also agreed to provide recycling containers for any of the town’s special events.
In other matters, Tuesday night, council approved an increase in the starting pay for lifeguards at the Christiansburg Aquatics Center to $10 an hour. Earlier in the month, CAC Director Terry Caldwell admitted it was getting harder to keep lifeguards at the facility because employees were able to make more money at other places.