The Portage County Solid Waste Management District receives over $1 million each year from a tax on your trash called a tipping fee. Portage County has the second highest fee in the State of Ohio -- $9.60 per ton of trash. A neighboring county pays a fee of only $1.50 per ton of trash. We all pay this extra tax in our trash bills.
What does the Portage County Solid Waste Management District do with the tax dollars? We really do not know. The organization has no figures that outline its costs to pick up recyclables. It takes the over $1 million and uses it in the day-to-day operations. A private company would collect the recyclables and not have any part of the $1 million from the tax and would in fact collect the recyclables for less money than the county.
Twenty years ago when the Portage County recycling center was started, there were no private companies in the area doing recycling. Today at least four good-sized companies are profitable and employ a large number of people.
Portage County's recycling center is old and not in very good condition. The county has decided to sell the recyclables to a private company to separate and recycle products. However, it wants to spend millions of dollars on equipment such as trucks and will not allow individual communities to move to a private company, which would save the residents money.
Hiram, Streetsboro, Aurora, Mantua, Nelson and Ravenna spent many hours trying to work with the committee of the Portage County Solid Waste District. The negotiations reached a point where changes would have allowed communities to privatize and save the residents money on their recycling bill.
After months of work the committee took all of the changes out of the agreement and added in this language:
"If delivered to a permanent processing center other than the district's recycling center, this can only be done after thoroughly researching the financial effect on the Portage County Solid Waste Management District and its ability to carry out outlined programs. If this option is determined to be detrimental to the ability to carry out the outlined programs, it will not be permitted."
The problem with this is that the solid waste board does not have any idea of what the operational costs are because the recycling center uses the over $1 million in tax dollars to prop up the running of our recycling center. The result is that none of the communities would be able to privatize.
Other problems with the plan includes the fact that one community (Kent) gets a stipend and has received this for over 20 years. Kent was very helpful in getting recycling started in Portage County, but we believe other communities may be recycling as well or even better than Kent so it is time to drop the stipend.
In addition, the plan drops many very important programs like household hazardous waste (the acceptance of paint, pesticides, light bulbs and chemicals) and waste oil pickup. Where will these terrible chemicals end up?
We would rather see the over $1 million in tax dollars go to these programs along with more educational programs instead of the day to day operation that could be handled by private companies. This should worry all of the citizens of Portage County.
Hiram Township trustee
James Fisher, Aurora mayor
Linda Clark, Mantua mayor
Nelson Township trustee