The Blue Springs City Council on Monday discussed a contested issue: city recycling.
The city closed the Pink Hill Park Recycling Center in October, citing an overflow of visitors and a declining market for recycled material. Since then, community members and business owners have formed the Solid Waste Management Commission, regularly meeting to research and consider options.
Robert Fasl, a member of the commission, presented the council with five recommendations Monday evening. One centered on the goal of reopening the recycling center, suggesting its operations be covered by a future tax. Fasl indicated that the group was considering the proposal of a $5 or $6 annual tax per household.
Other propositions included the removal of the requirement that roll-off containers be within five feet of one’s house, that haulers provide audits and that the city determine updated cost estimates for a recycling center through a request for proposal. The group also suggested the city be split into zones to consolidate trash company territories and reduce the impact to infrastructure, an idea Mayor Carson Ross says he’s championed for seven years.
“Recycling really is the only answer,” Fasl asserted.
A group of community members called Green Blue Springs echoed this sentiment. The organization presented a survey they conducted on the recycling center’s last day of operations.
The survey incorporated 970 respondents, who were visitors of the center. In response to the council’s concern that the center attracted too many residents of other cities, the survey found that 68 percent of respondents were Blue Springs residents, while the other 32 percent were not. The survey also highlighted that when the recycling center closed, 30 percent of respondents said their plan was to start throwing recyclable materials in the trash.
However, Council Member Susan Culpepper remained reluctant to reopen the center, acknowledging that some curbside services cost less than $2 a month. Similarly, Council Member Dale Carter questioned the economics of recycling, namely the venture’s profitability.
Alongside this community issue, the meeting also spurred conversation about internal council concerns. Carter urged the governing body to “be more than just a rubber stamp,” and for the City Charter to establish a stronger system of checks and balances. Both Carter and Council Member Lievsay stressed that the charter should be amended so all members can set meeting agendas, not just the mayor.
“You control the agenda, and we are not allowed to add items-- I don’t believe that’s in the charter,” Carter leveled at Ross.
Ross said additions to the charter should be handled through the Charter Commission Board, a volunteer board of community members. The council also voted to pass this board, but without Ross’s recommendations for a chair or vice chair. Instead, they decided the group would pick its own leaders.