Meeker board discusses recycling program

In its final meeting for the year, Meeker’s Board of Trustees gave final approval to the 2022 budget, with an addition of $44 in property taxes from the November public hearing.

For the record, trustees Scott Creecy and Travis Day said while they are in support of the budget, neither supported the $250K for Phase 2 of the Circle Park project.

The board also approved the required ordinance for the approval and certification of the mill levy for general property taxes for fiscal year 2022.

FUTURE OF RECYCLING

Lee Overton of Overton Recycling was present for a discussion with trustees and staff about the future of the town’s recycling program. The Town of Meeker has subsidized the local recycling program for years, but started reducing the amount of the subsidy in the last year or two. For 2022, the town budgeted $7,500 for the year, down from as much as $40,000 in 2017.

Overton has also been receiving a state grant for the free recycling program that covers his transportation of materials to dropoff centers. He said he hauls three to four roll-off truck loads to Eagle every month to drop off Meeker’s recycling. Even with the grant and the town subsidy, he said the program “probably barely broke even this year.”

When the town’s recycling program began, there was a high demand for recyclables. In 2018, China instituted the “National Sword” policy and stopped accepting most materials, leaving the U.S. and other countries with nowhere to send nearly half of recyclable materials. Without a demand for materials, prices plummeted and recycling programs lost business viability.

“The U.S. market has flipped,” Overton said. “You don’t get paid for it.” He said cardboard is accepted at no charge, but he has to pay a “tipping fee” for everything else. Meanwhile, the quantity of cardboard coming in to recycling has increased exponentially.

“I’m fine with at least breaking even,” Overton added. If he starts charging for recycling, he’ll lose the state grant funding. “People love the idea of recycling out there because it’s free. If they have to pay, there’s no way.”

Board members said they don’t want to end the program, nor do they expect Overton to operate at a loss. Overton and the board agreed to amend the contract to a six-month plan and will revisit the discussion in July of 2022.

Tuesday was Trustee Scott Creecy’s final meeting as a board member. His seat will be open for a temporary appointment beginning in January. Municipal elections in April will have three open seats — Chris Lockwood, Scott Nielsen, Creecy’s seat and the mayor’s position open. Petitions will be available starting Jan. 4, 2022.


By NIKI TURNER – editor@ht1885.com