City voters will decide on curbside recycling By Patrick Morrison
Yankton Press & Dakotan Vermillion voters will have one more decision to make come Election Day as a city ordinance instituting curbside recycling has been referred to the ballot. Last April, the Vermillion City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing for mandatory curbside recycling, said Phyllis Packard, solid waste director for the city of Vermillion. â�?�?A year and a half ago, we have the Government Research Bureau at The University of South Dakota do an extensive survey of the community,â�? Packard said. â�?�?We found that around 90 percent of Vermillion residents wanted a curbside recycling program. I guess we will find out if that 90 percent is correct or not.â�? Packard said Vermillion has received a grant loan to pay for the start-up equipment necessary to institute the ordinance should it be approved in November. If the ordinance comes into effect, homeowners would be assessed a fee of $3.50 on their utility bills to help cover operating costs. Curbside recycling should also provide a steady stream of recyclables and increased revenue to the recycling center, Packard said. â�?�?In the weeks that it is freezing cold, we donâ�?�?t get a large flow of recyclables through the facility,â�? she said. â�?�?The passage of the ordinance would help us even out the flow and make our facility more efficient.â�? Mary Edelen, vice-president of the Vermillion City Council, said extending the life of the landfill was a major factor in the City Councilâ�?�?s decision. â�?�?This ordinance would absolutely extend the life of the landfill and save the city money in the long run,â�? Edelen said. â�?�?These products are sold, and that helps the life of the recycling center, which means more money to put back in for other things. Itâ�?�?s a win-win situation for the community and the citizens to have curbside recycling.â�? Packard agreed, adding that Vermillion and Yankton recycle around 200 tons of materials each month, compared to an average of 150 tons of waste buried in the landfill everyday. â�?�?Recycling is a very important industry financially to us, while a landfill is a necessity,â�? she said. â�?�?Around 50 percent of what we put into the landfill every day is recyclable. The more we can recycle rather than burying in a very expensive landfill, the more money we could be saving the taxpayers.â�? Not all Vermillion residents are in support of the ordinance, however. LeRoy Backhaus said he helped gather more than 400 signatures to refer the ordinance to the ballot because it didnâ�?�?t cover everyone in Vermillion. â�?�?It doesnâ�?�?t cover businesses, trailer parks or large apartment complexes,â�? Backhaus said. â�?�?Iâ�?�?ve recycled for 15 years; its not that Iâ�?�?m anti-recycling. â�?�?I just donâ�?�?t think itâ�?�?s fair that half of Vermillion wonâ�?�?t have access to curbside recycling.â�? USD student Carrie Brooks, president of the student group Recyclemania, said she was confident that USD students would participate in curbside recycling. â�?�?Like with anyone, itâ�?�?s all about convenience with students,â�? Brooks said. â�?�?I so often heard from students that they would recycle, but they donâ�?�?t want to go through that extra work. If we make it easy for them, they will recycle.â�? Edelen said her vote in favor of the ordinance was partly influenced by support from she received from USD students. â�?�?University students come from all over, and many of the communities where they come from, recycle,â�? she said. â�?�?A lot of university students have requested it; they want curbside recycling because they are used to it.â�? Kelsey Collier-Wise, a law student at USD and a resident of Vermillion, said she plans to campaign for the ordinance come November. â�?�?Right now, we are doing a really volunteer-based campaign,â�? she said. â�?�?We just want to let the public know that this is on the ballot and the reasons why they should support it.â�? Backhaus also said the decision by the city council to impose a fee on homeowners contributed to his opposition of the ordinance. â�?�?If they wanted to charge a fee, they should add it to the fees they charge at the landfill,â�? he said. â�?�?If we are trying to decrease use at the landfill, we should make those who use it pay for it.â�? While there are those who are opposed to the ordinance, Edelen believes Vermillion residents have been largely supportive of the City Councilâ�?�?s decision. â�?�?The people I have talked to are really looking forward to having curbside recycling,â�? she said. â�?�?We have really been behind the 8-ball for many years by not having curbside recycling. Vermillion is going to win all of the way around.â�?
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