City to present two options for future of recycling at Wednesday forum, but Mays welcomes all ideas

Recycling tubs

A presentation about an option for bi-weekly curbside recycling pickup will be made at Wednesday's community forum at the Quincy Town Center. Jeff Mays, director of administrative services, says about half of the downstate communities he’s looked at that are roughly Quincy’s size have been collecting bi-weekly “for a long time.” | David Adam

QUINCY — Jeff Mays, director of administrative services, says city officials will present two proposals for the future of recycling in Quincy during a community forum from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 6 in the Community Room of the Quincy Town Center, 3347 Quincy Mall.

When people consider the proposals, Mays wants them to understand the fiscal challenges the city is facing with its current weekly curbside recycling pickup program.

About 5,900 customers are paying $5 per month (collected on water bills) for the city’s curbside recycle collection service. The city collects around $350,000 in service fees to cover about half of the cost of recycling. However, expenses in the recycle fund were nearly $650,000 in fiscal year 2020-21, and the 2021-22 revised budget shows those expenses are at $693,168. City officials project that figure to top $700,000 during the next fiscal year.

To balance the books in 2020-21, city officials transferred a $200,169 subsidy from the general fund and a $134,000 subsidy from the garbage fund to the recycle fund. The subsidy from the general fund is $317,372 for the 2022-23 fiscal year budget, because the garbage fund is not providing a subsidy.

Mays noted three local private garbage collection companies recently added “fuel surcharges” to their monthly fees. He says increase fuel costs will make a dent in the city’s garbage fund.

“The (recycling) environment is not a crisis, not by a longshot,” Mays said. “But what I like about this mayor (Mike Troup) is he’s asking, ’Is this sustainable?’ We’re not going to have a garbage fund to subsidize recycling. It’s just not going to happen. If anything, general funds are going to have to subsidize garbage.”

$1 million needed to replace three recycling trucks in next five years

Mays also said state income taxes, sales taxes and personal property replacement taxes have grown for the past three years. However, recent projections call for downturns on each of those taxes this year.

The recycling program has three vehicles — two 2014 Mack trucks and one 2012 International. Next year’s preliminary budget calls for fuel, parts, labor and commercial repairs to the aging fleet to cost $236,000. 

“We’re using baling wire and chewing gum to keep those trucks out on the streets,” Mays said.

He added that Central Services must replace each truck during the next five years at a total cost of more than $1 million.

“The bottom line is it’s a real crapshoot,” Mays said. “What I like about the mayor’s thoughts is that we should look at this and try to figure out if we can do it better and cheaper, more effectively, whether or not there’s a crisis. Then you add to that a thought that there might be a crisis. It’s time to be talking.”

Options for bi-weekly curbside collection and collection bins to be presented

Mays is a member of the Central Services Committee, which is chaired by alderman Tony Sassen (R-4). Other members are aldermen Eric Entrup (R-1), Kelly Mays (R-3) and Jack Holtschlag (D-7); Kevin McClean, director of Central Services; Jeff Conte, director of public works; and John Schafer, assistant director of Central Services.

Schafer will present Wednesday an option for bi-weekly curbside recycling pickup. Mays says about half of the downstate communities he’s looked at that are roughly Quincy’s size have been collecting bi-weekly “for a long time.”

Mays also said only two recycling trucks would need to be replaced if the bi-weekly option is selected.

Conte will present an option for “two or three” collection bins for fiber and non-fiber materials in various locations city-wide.

The city began a similar program on May 1 with Ripple Glass to provide glass recycling for Quincy residents. Residents already have dropped off more than 200 tons of glass at County Market, 48th and Broadway.

“People know where it is, they’re finding it and they’re using the heck out of it,” Mays said. “If I could have the same kind of thing for paper, cardboard, plastics, aluminum and glass at two or three different locations, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t have more people recycling.”

Mays says early feedback indicates city should consider rate increase

Mays said the city might opt to make no changes to the recycling service. The city also could raise rates. He also said the city could limit recycling to people who are customers for the city’s garbage service. The Central Services Committee will determine if the feedback from Wednesday’s forum warrants more consideration for either of those options.

“There is no discussion about dropping recycling,” Mays said. “I’d like to see recycling get bigger, but I want to sustain the service first.”

The city received citizen feedback on proposed alternatives last week through an online survey provided by the city. Mays said some of the early feedback was that the city hasn’t given a rate increase adequate consideration.

“There’s some who say, ‘If you’re not sustaining (recycling), we shouldn’t be doing it,’” Mays said. “It comes down to: How can we do what we’re doing more effectively and efficiently?”

Recycling revenue and expenses

Information provided by City of Quincy

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