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How recycling could save you and the town money

Members of the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen were talking trash last week, literally, as they discussed an increase in garbage rates for town residents.
Residents currently pay $11.50 per month for trash service provided through the town. As of Sept. 1, that rate will increase by $2, unless a resident is willing to take part in the town’s recycling program.
“If you don’t recycle, then you choose to pay the $2 increase,” explained Mayor Kelly Wolfe during the June 30 called meeting of the BMA. “If you recycle, then you pay no increase.”
Landfill disposal fees for the town, which dumps the trash it collects at the Johnson City-owned Iris Glen landfill, are the second-largest expense in the solid waste department at approximately $138,000 annually, Wolfe said.
By encouraging participation in the recycling program, BMA members hope to cut down on that annual cost simply by reducing the amount of trash going to the landfill.
“There’s a lot of stuff that gets thrown away that doesn’t have to,” said Alderman Terry Countermine. “Recycling is a habit. That’s what it is and we just need to get people in that habit.”
Currently, the town has a 34 percent participation rate in the recycling program. Town Administrator Bob Browning projected a 40 percent increase in that number with the implementation of the new rate structure.
“As much as we don’t want to increase our garbage fees,” Wolfe added, “if you tie an increase to a behavior that benefits our town and benefits God’s creation, I find that a little more palatable.”
The increased garbage fee will also help fund the purchase of an “almost new” garbage truck and the construction by town employees of a recycling truck, Wolfe said.
“We are grappling with several different things at one time in terms of solid waste,” he noted. “This seems to be an answer to just about all of these questions.”
The town would secure a $235,000 capital outlay note to get the trucks and convert its current garbage collection to a front-loading system.
In addition to the $2 monthly increase, the project will be funded through the elimination of an unfilled position within the solid waste department, Wolfe said.
BMA members voted 3-1 to approve the $2 increase to garbage rates effective Sept. 1, with Alderman Chuck Vest casting the dissenting vote.
Vest, along with Alderman Jerome Fitzgerald, expressed concern about how the town will regulate the recycling mandate.
“If you throw one plastic bottle in a recycling bin, is that recycling,” Vest questioned.
Town leaders said a plan will be created during the next several weeks that will iron out how the recycling program will be monitored.