The city of Sulphur Springs may have an official recycling program someday soon, but City Council members decided Tuesday to delay hashing out the details until a later date.
The council members, meeting in regular session at the Sulphur Springs Municipal Building, were scheduled to discuss an possibly vote on a pilot recycling program submitted by City Manager Marc Maxwell.
In essence, the plan was to set up a trailer on Main Street during the weekly Farmer’s Markets, which are being held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through October.
Citizens would be able to drop off plastic, glass, aluminum and other metals, such as tin cans at the trailer. The city would then pay for hauling the materials to a recycling center in Dallas.
There would have been no charge for dropping off items during 2009. In 2010, the plan would have added a 25-cent charge on city water bills.
The trailer would cost about $17,000. Transport fees would add about $12,000 more.
Councilman Charles Oxford was adamant in his support of starting a recycling program.
“I hope there is some way we can somehow get a lot of support and enthusiasm for the project,” he said.
But Councilman Clay Walker played the devil’s advocate, saying he likes the idea of a recycling program but was concerned about the bang for the buck.
“If we spend all this money and haul all this to Dallas, what have we achieved but symbolism? We’ve achieved nothing,” Walker said. “How much fuel is it going to take to haull this stuff to Dallas? It might give everyone a warm fuzzy, but it doesn’t make sense.”
City Finance Director Peter Karstens said the distance to the recycling center makes the cost higher. He said Sulphur Springs is about as far from a recycling center as it can get.
“If you were right next door to where the stuff goes in Dallas, it would stand a chance to be somewhat cost-effective,” Karstens said. “Because of the distance, if the program is really, really successful, then the cost multiplies. Right now, (compared to) the cost to put the stuff in a landfill, to do it this way is four to five times more expensive.”
And Maxwell said that recycling simply does not qualify as a cost-effective issue.
“The truth is, recycling does not make sense financially,” he said. “The fact is it is not an economic issue — it’s emotional.”
Walker said he doesn’t disagree with” supporting something that makes sense environmentally.”
“But this doesn’t make sense environmentally any more than using ethanol and using a hundred gallons of tractor fuel to produce a few gallons of ethanol,” he said. “This doesn’t make sense with green — a green dollar bill.”
Oxford countered tha reducing the nation’s carbon footprint goes beyond simply counting dollars and cents.
“With all the emphasis you see on green everywhere, if we are all serious as a nation, we all need to contribute to it,” he said. “It’s something we really need to seriously consider, and we really need to take a stab at trying to support a vital program.”
And if the program is wildly succesful, city leaders will know how much support the program really has, Maxwell noted.
“We’ll have to charge for it,” he said. “Then we’ll find out if they’re really committed to it they have to pay a $3 or $5 charge.”
Council members ultimately voted not to make a decision Tuesday night and delay a final disposition until more options have been researched.
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