WATERTOWN – Councilor Leonard G. Spaziani says he won’t vote for the city’s proposed budget if it includes spending $ 1.285 million on a plan to provide one-stream recycling to city residents.
For months, Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith worked on his goal of making recycling easier for city residents. He hopes residents will no longer have to separate recyclables into different plastic bins.
The plan is part of the city’s capital projects program within the city’s proposed budget. City council has scheduled a final budget work session on Monday evening to vote on the spending plan.
Saying it would be money “foolishly spent”, Councilor Spaziani believes the plan is too expensive to start and will not save the city money for at least a decade.
“I’m totally against it right now,” he said. “It’s the big green lie, and the green lie is what the money is in your wallet. I am economically conservative. I will not vote for the budget it contains. “
Mr Spaziani says now is not the time to invest so much money for the program when the city faces the so-called financial cliff when National Grid stops paying millions of dollars to buy power hydroelectric to the city.
He and councilor Lisa A. Ruggiero want more information on his costs.
“My question is really when is the city going to save money?” she said. “I think we have to wait and get more information on this. It’s going to cost $ 1.285 million to start. “
In December, Mayor Smith said he was working with the Development Authority of the North Country on a plan to transport recyclables from city residents to the Harrisville Regional Recycling Transfer Station, which opened in 8023 Washington Street in April. City manager Kenneth A. Mix said recyclables could instead be transported to Fort Drum, which also has a large program.
The mayor has requested that the project be included in the city’s proposed budget as part of a capital project.
Plans include construction of a building for the program at a cost of $ 700,000, $ 400,000 for recyclable compaction equipment and $ 175,000 to purchase a runoff truck to transport the material. Mr Mix also said the city needed to determine where the equipment would be taken. He said staff were gathering additional information for advice on project finances.
Public Works Superintendent Patrick Keenan told city council members it will take 10 to 12 years before the city can start saving money by doing single-stream recycling.
Right now, the city pays Jefferson County $ 71 a tonne to haul the city’s waste to the county’s Rodman facilities and pays nothing to accept recyclables, Councilor Ruggiero said. She found that it would cost $ 85 per tonne to haul the recyclables in bulk to DANC’s facility in Harrisville and $ 50 per tonne if the material is compacted.
“The city would pay for recyclable materials when they are now free.” she said.
But Mayor Smith insisted that the short- and long-term “all-round” benefits far outweigh the costs of starting the plan, saying it is more convenient and efficient for residents and employees of the plan. the city than to separate recyclable materials into three, four or five bins. Single-stream recycling is also better for the environment as it will increase recycling and save landfill life, he said, adding that it will also save the city money in coming years.
Mayor Smith also pointed out that this is a good proposed budget that will feature a zero tax increase for residents, even with one-stream recycling in the capital plan.
He has already told council members about the plan and will contact them again to try to convince them to support him before the budget is voted on at Monday’s meeting.
“It’s up to them to decide,” he said. “It’s not just today, but tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day.”
A bond would have to be approved to pay for the plan, which requires a four-fifths vote. With two members of the council who oppose it. Mr Mix said he will not discuss the link until there is enough support for it.
Single stream recycling for city residents has been the topic of conversation for years. It’s also a long-standing goal for Mayor Smith, dating back to his days as a member of city council nearly a decade ago.
Council members will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the council chamber on the third floor of City Hall to finalize the budget.