By Joe Crawford
Proponents of a major recycling operation vowed to keep fighting for the project after it was voted down a second time on a technicality. The Monroe County Solid Waste Management District’s Board of Directors called an emergency meeting August 15th to effectively redo a vote on a materials recovery facility, also known as a MRF. The previous vote at a meeting August 8th produced confusion and frustration when several Board members either didn’t show up for the meeting or needed to leave early. In the end, only three of the Board’s seven members voted for a budget that specifically excluded $60,000 to investigate the viability of a MRF.
But, as Board President Steve Volan explained, attorneys for the District later decided those three members successfully passed their version of the budget. One of those three members, Cheryl Munson, made a motion August 15th to effectively reverse her previous vote. The motion was to approve a version of the budget that includes money for a MRF, which would allow the District to process and sell its own recyclables. The two main opponents of the MRF were Board members Patrick Stoffers and Iris Kiesling, who are also both County commissioners. Kiesling said she opposed spending money on the project partly because the District is on track to run a deficit next year. Members of the public and the District’s Citizens Advisory Committee spoke in favor of the MRF. Committee member Stephen Hale said the facility could give the District an opportunity to make more money on its recyclables.
When the Board voted on the motion to include the MRF in next year’s budget, three of the five members present approved. Volan, Munson and Julie Thomas voted for the MRF. But another technicality worked to help the opposition. Because this was a vote to amend a budget that had already been approved, attorneys said this time a majority of the full Board – or four members – was needed. Without enough votes to support the MRF, Volan said he planned to force another vote on the subject as soon as all seven members could attend a meeting. Volan said the two absent members, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan and Ellettsville Town Council member Dan Swafford, were absent for health reasons.