Recycling center to cut hours & glass collection to save money
In an effort to recover from a serious shortfall in county funding,
the Morgan County Solid Waste Authority has announced immediate changes at the county’s recycling center to save money and balance their budget.
Chairman Bennett Lentczner pressed the Morgan County commissioners last Thursday for a straight answer about funding for the group.
The Solid Waste Authority, which runs the Charles R. Biggs Recycling Center, asked the county for $20,000 to help run the center this fiscal year, which began July 1.
During budget discussions, county officials opted to give $5,000 instead. They said they might be able to give another $5,000 in December if the
county’s budget allows.
At their September 15 meeting, the commissioners stuck with that schedule. They told Lentczner they couldn’t commit to giving more money at this time or promising money that might not be there in December.
“We can’t answer that right now,” said Commissioner Brad Close.
Scaled back services
Lentczner told the commissioners that the recycling group had expected to get the full $20,000 requested and would have to make quick and deep cuts to recover from the shortfall.
“I’m not here to threaten the commission with anything. This is the circumstance we’re in. This is what we’ll have to do, and we’ll have to do it by the end of the month to balance the budget,” said Lentczner.
First, the center will stop taking any glass for recycling as of October 1, he said.
The center doesn’t make any money recycling glass and actually pays to
have all types of glass hauled away to a regional recycler, Lentczner said.
Suspending glass recycling will save them $3,000.
Second, the center will cut the number of hours it is open on Monday, Friday and Saturday.
The group plans to trim eight hours from its weekly schedule, but will stay open all three days.
As of October 1, the new hours will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Trimming the hours will cut $3,600 in staffing costs from the budget, Lentczner said.
The rest of the $15,000 budget shortfall would be closed by other operational cuts.
One may be to shut the center on days when there are more than four inches of snow, so the Solid Waste Authority wouldn’t have to pay someone to plow the entrance and roadways through the lot, Lentczner said.
The group will also cut back on general maintenance of the roadway through the center, which typically includes grading and adding gravel each season to make the drive less muddy.
Commission President Stacy Dugan asked if the Solid Waste Authority could become self-sufficient and be able to operate without support from the county.
Lentczner said no solid waste group in the state is able to do that, because the market for recycled materials doesn’t produce much income and the service is free to residents.
Lentczner noted that the county has a legal responsibility to give funds to a local Solid Waste Authority, which is organized in cooperation with the Public Service Commission, Eastern Panhandle Conservation District and Department of Environmental Protection.
He said his board of directors talked about the fact that the county gave $43,000 to groups like the Morgan County Fair, state park foundations and Morgan Arts Council – none of whom the county are required by law to support.
Commissioner Close explained that those funds had come from Hotel/Motel tax revenue, which must be spent on particular activities.
“You would not have been eligible for that money,” Close said.
Lentczner said he would explain that to his board.