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City Council votes to approve recycling plan

Mayor indicates desire for more definite cost, revenue numbers
The Prineville City Council passed Prineville Disposal's proposed recycling plan and estimated monthly fee increase of $3.60 by a vote of 5-1 after a public hearing on Tuesday night. If passed by the county next week, it will mark the first time Prineville has had a recycling program.
   The lone nay vote came from Prineville Mayor Mike Wendel, who stated he will not vote for the program until a more definite fee is figured out.
   Prineville Disposal has a franchise agreement with the city to provide garbage service, and as a franchisor, the city negotiates on behalf of the citizens.
   "Since we are a franchise, we [the city] oversee the agreement," Wendel said. "We need to be reviewing the numbers to make sure they are more accurate and make sure we are not overcharging. I would not support a price that we are not completely sure of."
   According to Steve Holliday of Prineville Disposal, the current fee is their "best estimate" of what the program will cost, distributed among the approximately 3,200 customers within the urban growth boundary (UGB) that Prineville Disposal serves. The fee will cover the cost of equipment and labor.
   "Until you place all the orders, you don't know for sure," Holliday said. He stressed that the increase will not exceed $3.60.
   Citizens who came forward during the meeting expressed overwhelming support for the recycling program and did not have many qualms about the price increase, although some felt that more options should be offered.
   The recycling bins are a bulky 95 gallons, and it was mentioned that a single person living alone would probably not be able to a fill one in a week. It was suggested that neighbors be able to share the bins, or smaller sizes be offered.
   "What I'd like to see are some options," Prineville resident Michael Chadwick said. "Like maybe having garbage pick-up once every two weeks."
   "Ninety-five gallons is a pretty big size, and most seniors or single people - I'd be worried about them if they could fill it up," longtime Prineville resident Karole Stockton said. "I ask you to consider not making this mandatory, particularly for seniors, and also for low-income qualified people. We can cooperate with each other and help to pick up each other's recyclables, because I don't think there's that much of it."
   Mike Mohan of Prineville brought up the important point that a recycling program will extend the life of the Crook County Landfill. The price tag on the newest eight-acre cell, completed in 2003, was around $2.5 million and it was expected to last around 10 years. According to Alan Keller, manager of the Crook County landfill, it is now about 50 percent full and a new cell would cost around $15 million.
   Concern was also expressed for those living on fixed incomes, especially senior citizens, who may have difficulty paying for the program with other expenses, such as medication.
   "That totals out to $43 per year. For some people, that's a month's worth of medicine, or maybe food. It bothers me that it's mandatory for everyone," said Cherry Binder of Prineville.
   Holliday stated that for now, he plans to just to get the program off the ground and address the particular concerns as they come up at a later date.
   "Not to take away from their concerns, but there are so many things that you need to take care of other than trying to get smaller carts. There are a lot more pieces to the pie," he said.
   He hopes to officially implement the program by July 1, 2008.