Task force outlines recycling proposal
A Charleston Area Alliance task force's scenario of a public/private partnership running a recycling program in the county is similar to the deal the Solid Waste Authority members are working on with a Chicago-based company, an official said.
Task force members and Solid Waste Authority board members gathered for an informational meeting Wednesday night to discuss the recycling crisis in Kanawha County.
The crisis began last spring when Solid Waste Authority board members voted to close the Slack Street recycling center because of structural issues and the discovery of combustible dust.
Recycling could no longer be processed at the center and the Solid Waste Authority began hemorrhaging money because the agency could no longer sell any recyclables.
However, the agency has been working with Chicago-based Draw Enterprises, a company that wants to reopen the center under a public/private partnership.
The task force, which is made up of members of county government as well as local citizens, business leaders and members of the Charleston Area Alliance, has outlined two scenarios, a privately run recycling program and a public/private partnership.
"The second proposal for a public/private partnership makes a lot of sense," said Rod Watkins, a Solid Waste Authority board member.
Task force members will make a recommendation on what they believe is the best course of action to the Kanawha County Commission on Nov. 29, Commissioner
Dave Hardy said. Hardy is a founding member of the task force.
In the deal, the Solid Waste Authority would lease the Slack Street center to the company for a $1 a year. The Solid Waste Authority would also receive a set dollar amount for every ton of recyclables processed by the company.
That dollar amount has not yet been finalized, Watkins said.
The term of the lease would be for five years, with two five-year extensions being optional, he said.
The Solid Waste Authority board members opted to go with a specific dollar amount per ton instead of a percentage of the profits because it protects the public agency from market fluctuation when it comes to the price recyclables bring on the open market, Watkins said.
The company and the Solid Waste Authority would also have an incentive to increase the amount of recycling, he said.
Watkins pointed out that the Kanawha County school system does not recycle, nor does Charleston Town Center mall.
"I just got back from Ecuador; it's one of the poorest countries in South America and they recycle," Watkins said.
The Solid Waste Authority would use the funds generated from the sale of materials to increase programs promoting recycling. The agency is also exploring the possibility of setting up multiple recycling drop-off centers, Watkins said.
"But that's a sensitive issue," he said. "People want them (drop-off points) but they don't want them in their back yard."
The company would also invest about $250,000 to get the recycling center open once again, Watkins said.
"Would the company be willing to use that equity to put into a new facility?" Hardy asked Watkins.
Watkins is skeptical the company would be willing to put that money into a new facility because the agency estimates a new building could cost $2 million to $4 million.
Hardy told board members he would be willing to recommend that the commission "participate" in building a new center.
No official action was taken at the meeting. Watkins said attorneys with the Solid Waste Authority were still drafting a lease agreement, which will be presented to Draw Enterprises.