The Charleston City Council approved a budget amendment Monday to move $115,000 from the city’s contingency fund so curbside recycling services can resume.
City recycling services will begin again starting Monday with regular trash pickup. Services stopped in early April when the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority, where Charleston trucks its recyclables, closed because of COVID-19.
The money will fund recycling services until June 30, 2021.
Raleigh County previously had taken Charleston’s recycling for free, but the Solid Waste Authority told public works officials in June that might no longer be financially possible. Raleigh will now bill Charleston $175 per ton of recycling.
Last year, the facility calculated that Charleston delivered nearly 658 tons — then priced at $261 per ton — of recyclables to Raleigh County during the 2019-20 fiscal year. While the city was billed nothing for that amount, the facility estimated that it lost $171,425 from Charleston alone, city public works director Brent Webster said.
The City Council voted 19-7 to pass the budget amendment, with council members Jeanine Faegre, Deanna McKinney, Bobby Haas, Pat Jones, Adam Knauff, Robert Sheets and Tiffany Wesley Plear voting against.
Council member Bruce King said he did not support the amendment but voted for it because of the state code section that requires municipalities with more than 10,000 people to implement a recycling program.
“I don’t think we should be recycling at all,” King said, “just because of the economics of it.”
Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said the city is still weighing its future with Raleigh County after the funding runs out next year.
“This is a short-term solution to provide what we’re required to provide,” she said.
The City Council approved a $35,000 contract on July 6 to hire MSW Consulting to conduct a recycling feasibility study in Charleston, the results of which are expected in late October. Goodwin said Monday the study will help quantify things like how many residents recycle, how much the program costs, how the city can cut costs and other operational details.
The Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority was forced to stop taking single-stream, or all-in-one-bag, recyclables nearly six years ago because of high costs, which led cities such as Charleston and South Charleston to start trucking curbside recyclables to Raleigh County.