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Published: Friday, 2/15/2008

City trash fee may jump to $10 a month or drop to $0

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Toledo councilman wants to charge residents who don't recycle a $10 monthly trash fee.

The cost for those who do recycle at the curb? Nothing.

The idea is the latest in opposition to the controversial refuse fee enacted last year as part of the 2007 general operating fund budget. It will expire April 30 unless council renews it.

Councilman D. Michael Collins, author of the proposed ordinance, said the incentive will increase recycling and thereby extend the life of the city's landfill on Hoffman Road.

"If 60 percent of the households recycle, that equates to 18,000 tons of solid waste a year," Mr. Collins said.

The landfill has an expected remaining life of about 27 years. Building a new landfill would cost about $80 million.

Council on March 30, 2007, approved the $5.50 monthly trash fee, with the option of a $2.50 discount for people who pledge to recycle.

Before the fee existed, 17 percent of the city's population recycled. That percentage increased to 32 percent after the trash fee was enacted.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's proposed 2008 budget depends on $4.8 million to be collected from the trash fee this year.

Councilman Joe McNamara, who was co-author of the ordinance, has been among a contingent of councilmen seeking a way to end the trash fee.

He said the percentage of those who recycle would climb much higher under Mr. Collins' plan.

"A large percentage of Toledo-ans recycling would not be a problem but a signal that we truly are a national leader in green initiatives and technology," Mr. McNamara said.

"As Toledo reinvents its image, a massively successful recycling program can only aid our development of green-collar jobs."

Mr. Collins said the plan would include sanitation workers' using a handheld device to identify households that do not recycle.

Council's committee of the whole is scheduled to review the ordinance at 4 p.m. today.

Dave Moebius, the mayor's assistant chief operating officer, last night declined to comment on the ordinance because he had not seen it.

The current fee is charged to single-family homes, duplexes, and apartments of up to four units. Commercial and multi-family apartment complexes are required to contract for private trash hauling.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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