WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington asked Wednesday for $100,000 from the Clinton County Solid Waste District (SWD) to help expand and upgrade the town’s curbside recycling service.
But SWD Coordinator Jeff D. Walls expressed serious reservations, saying the proposed expenditure appears to risk violating a mandate that the district have long-term financial sustainability through the duration of its ratified 15-year plan.
During a county commissioners meeting on the matter, Wilmington Director of Public Safety and Service Brian A. Shidaker spoke about the proposed recycling project and a recent Ohio EPA award of $250,000 to the city to help bring it about.
The EPA grant is tied to the city providing a $125,000 match, Shidaker said. And there is an estimate it will take $183,000 beyond the EPA grant to make the project happen, added the service director.
The proposed recycling project includes new, larger 65-gallon wheeled carts with lids (compared to the current 18-gallon blue bins), as well as a new automated collection truck with an arm.
The enhancements mean the city’s curbside recycling program would add cardboard as a recyclable for curbside pickup, said Shidaker.
Due at least partly to a growing e-commerce sector — such as Amazon — that relies on shipping, there is a lot more cardboard going into the city landfill, he said.
Shidaker pointed to the SWD’s current carryover balance (cash reserves) of $650,000 as a reason to think the district can meet the $100,000 request by the city — a member of the district, he noted.
Walls responded that the projected carryover figure that’s forecast for the end of the 15-year plan is about $28,000.
He added that the SWD long-term plan is a document ratified by all political subdivisions in the county, and if the SWD doesn’t do what’s in the plan, the EPA will file a notice of violation and sanctions can be issued.
At one point, Shidaker said he is getting pressure to ask what the city is obtaining for the money it pays into the SWD.
Responding to a question from Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods, Shidaker said he is hopeful that Wilmington City Council would still fund the enhanced recycling program even without the SWD funds, “but I think it will create a stronger divide between the district and our legislative body in the city.”
The city official added he appreciates a healthy carryover, but the carryover dollars are taxpayers’ money that is “just sitting there” whereas tax dollars are expected to be used to benefit society.
Toward the conclusion of the meeting, Shidaker said he had a concern that “if this falls through and the city doesn’t receive any [SWD] funding, will the city be looking to join another district?”
Commissioners took no action Wednesday on the city’s request. Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed asked both Shidaker and Walls to submit some additional information he specified. Woods said one of the main things she is trying to improve as a new commissioner is for decisions to be made with the “entire county as a whole” in mind. She also said it’s good management to have carryover funds.
Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley suggested that SWD might provide half of what Shidaker asked for, and said a lot can change over 15 years. He added to protect all $650,000 is “a stretch for me, especially for a good program.”
After hearing that some of the money the city would save through receiving SWD funds might go toward hiring an added person at the landfill as recommended by the EPA, Haley said though he supports the proposed project, he is not supportive of expanding government in terms of employees, and so that is an aspect of the decision he needs to be satisfied with.
During an unrelated discussion Wednesday, commissioners identified the project proposals they are recommending in allocating $160,000 of CDBG funds coming to the county. Recommended are New Vienna projects to work on Main Street, to develop a park on village-owned land next to the New Vienna Public Library, and to install ADA parking and a new rear door at the community center there; commissioners also are recommending a Port William sidewalk project to complete sidewalk work started there several years ago.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.