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City Residents Lobby for Recycling Facility

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A City Council discussion yesterday about next year’s budget for the city of Bloomington turned into a forum of support for a major recycling project.

When the council asked for comment on the budget, five members of the public spoke in favor of building a materials recovery facility, or a MRF. A MRF would process recyclables locally, theoretically allowing local government entities to make money

Carrie Winkel told the council that operating a MRF would be better than the city’s current arrangement, which involves paying the company Republic Services to haul off recyclables

The council would not be directly responsible for the construction of a MRF. That responsibility would fall to the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District, which has considered different versions of the project in recent years.

None of those proposals have been approved. Speaker Sarah Ryterband said the city needs to use its leverage to lobby for the facility.

The discussion occurred as the council considered next year’s budget, which includes the spending of $1.4 million of city money on trash collection.

While some have said the city’s sanitation department is running a deficit because it spends more than it brings in from trash sticker sales, Council Member Marty Spechler said that’s the wrong way to think about the issue.

The cost of trash collection is going up, in part because Republic Services just announced it is increasing its rates. Council Member Steve Volan, who is also the president of the Solid Waste District’s Board of Directors, said building a MRF could help with those costs

The council did not hold a vote on any matter directly related to a MRF, though Volan said he may soon put forward a resolution supporting the project. The council voted unanimously to approve the 2014 budget.

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