Hocking County commissioner calls for division of solid waste district assets
CHAUNCEY — Hocking County Commissioner Clark Sheets Jr. has said he wants to divide the assets of the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District because the district’s contract with the non-profit group that operates the recycling center on Route 13 near Chauncey is competing with the private sector.
“We’re not going to be in the recycling business and competing with the private sector,” he told The Messenger's sister newspaper, The Logan Daily News, explaining that he would like to see the district work with private trash haulers to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s goal of recycling 25 percent of all garbage in the two counties. Currently, the district recycles about 14 percent of all waste generated within the district.
“The district owns all the trucks and recycling equipment at the Athens County facility, and the non-profit rents the facility. The district owns all the equipment, they pay all the employees for the recycling part…. The solid waste district owns all the equipment, so half belongs to Athens and half belongs to Hocking,” he said, detailing how the assets might be divided.
Yet Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason said dividing the assets of the two counties is impossible because money raised from selling equipment would go into the capital fund instead of a cash distribution to each county.
Dividing the assets also would reduce the 14 percent recycling rate, since it would limit the recycling center’s ability to process materials, unless a private hauler was ready to take control in a public/private partnership.
A consultant was hired in early November to help the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District seek proposals for a possible private-public partnership to handle the processing of recyclables.
GT Environmental Inc. of Stow is being paid $9,900 to develop a request for proposals that the district can send out to companies.
“Bids will be going out in December, turned in in January, and discussed at the Feb. 10 meeting,” explained Roger Bail, operations manager of the Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District.
The Ohio EPA has indicated that in the future, the district will have to recycle 25 percent of solid waste, and currently the district is not near that goal. In order to handle the increased recycling, the Route 13 recycling center will have to be upgraded, or a materials recovery facility utilized.
Bail said a prior study by GT Environmental Inc. about the feasibility of creating a single-stream materials recovery facility indicated it would not be self-supporting, but would be feasible if revenue remained available from collecting garbage and recycling from the city of Athens and Ohio University. Contracts that Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers Inc. has with the city and OU are up for renewal next year. OU has indicated it would like to see a single-stream materials recovery facility.
Sheets said he doesn't believe a materials recovery facility is possible without subsidizing it with taxpayer money to the tune of $500,000 each year, which isn't something he's willing to do.
"(Athens County) just thinks stuff falls from the sky," Sheets said. "OU has expressed they want to go to single-source recycling, and that's a major investment. They seem to think it's not going to be a problem."
An alternative to the district creating its own materials recovery facility would be to form a public-private partnership in which recyclables would be processed by an outside materials recovery facility.
GT Environmental will develop a request for proposals asking companies to submit proposals on three options, all of which call for taking recyclables to an outside materials recovery facility. Those options include:
• Taking unsorted mixed household recyclables to the facility.
• Doing some presorting locally to remove some recyclables, then sending the remainder to the materials recovery facility.
• Collecting, compacting and taking the recyclables to a facility.
* * *
Staff journalist Steve Robb of The Athens Messenger contributed to this report.