The residents of Forest City will soon have a new recycler, their own city.
The Forest City City Council decided to use the city’s current garbage trucks and employees, while purchasing a backup garbage truck in the new recycling program.
The new recycling program became necessary after Mason City Recycling, which used to pick up the recycling for Forest City, said it would no longer pick up the recycling after the end of their contract, which was June 30, according to City administrator Barb Smith.
Smith presented four options from the Street Committee before the council during its meeting July 1:
• The City could purchase a recycling truck that has separate compartments for plastic, metal, glass, paper and cardboard for $200,000, which would raise the recycling cost per residence to $4.75 per month (it is currently at $3 per residence). This option also would include a $40 per ton recycling fee from Mason City Recycling, which is where the collected items will go. The annual cost of operation would be $95,881.
• The city could hire a recycler, Absolute Waste, raising the recycling cost to $7.61 per residence and making the annual cost of operation $155,244.
• The City could take all the recycling to the landfill at $35 per ton, with the annual cost of operation as $17,375. However, all members of the council agreed this would not only be irresponsible toward the planet but would also decrease the budget for the sanitation department due to the removal of the $3 per month recycling fee.
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• The City could use its own garbage and cardboard trucks and City employees to collect the recycling, taking to a recycler at $40 per ton. Additionally, the City would purchase a used truck as backup. The annual cost of operation would be $79,881, and the recycling fee would increase to $4 per residence.
“They said they will work with us until we’ve got something figured out,” Smith said. “They will still take our recycling but they are not picking up residential recycling.”
The council decided on option No. 4 after determining the city was not ready for a $200,000 recycling truck purchase, trying to keep raising the recycling fee to a bare minimum and still keeping the recycling program rather than taking it all to the landfill.
“That’s not the responsible thing to do and I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t want to be on the news as the first community in North Iowa that stops a recycling program,” Smith said.
Smith said Mason City Recycling required the plastic, metal and glass be separate from the cardboard and paper, so the Street Committee thought the City can use a garbage truck and the cardboard truck they already use to pick up businesses’ cardboard to pick up the residential recycling.
Street and Sanitation Department Superintendent Mike O’Rourke said he would like to get a used truck as backup in case one of the trucks went down, which could cost between $50,000 and $60,000.
Smith said they would pick up half the town’s recycling on the first and third Wednesdays of the month and pick up the other half’s on the second and fourth Wednesdays “because that’s the lightest garbage day.”