Future cloudy for recycling in Montrose

MONTROSE — Montrose residents who want to recycle could pay a $6 monthly fee for the city service beginning in 2012.

The Montrose County Council approved an ordinance on a 4-1 vote Tuesday to amend the 2012 budget and charge the fee to city sanitation customers who sign up for the recycling service.

The budget is up for final approval next month, and the city still could terminate the recycling program to balance the sanitation fund next year. The recycling program and the budget will be discussed during an Oct. 4 hearing at the council chambers, starting at 6 p.m.

According to city staff, 2,800 residents, or 46 percent of city sanitation customers, are signed up for the recycling service. The City Council voted to make the program voluntary and avoid a proposed $3 monthly fee on all sanitation users, even those who don’t choose to recycle.

Supporters of the $3 fee spoke out during public discussion, saying the program is morally important to the city. Those who opposed the fee said it is an illegal tax on the public.

“What I think you’re doing with this fee, and I may be out of line here, is illegal,” Montrose resident Jim Westervelt said. “Until this is an essential service … I think we should see if it’s legal.”

The council was told it must have 1,893 participants signed up by the end of the year for the $6 monthly fee if the program is to be kept off the chopping block. That would generate $136,296.

Council member Thomas Smits, who cast the lone vote in opposition to the ordinance, said that amount still would not cover the program, which costs $231,000 per year.

“This is just a Band-Aid,” Smits said.

City Manager William Bell said the city continues to look at other avenues, including privatization, so residents could still have a recycling service.


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