By Sean Rice
Under a proposed revision of the Mercer County solid waste management plan, county property owners would pay a few dollars a year for recycling services if the Celina Sanitary Landfill reaches capacity and closes.
City officials met with county leaders and waste consultant Howard Weinerman Monday night to discuss the waste management plan before it is sent for approval by all villages and townships.
The plan, which is required by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, was defeated by a vote of Celina City Council in 2000, after every other municipality in the county approved it. As the county's only city, Celina has veto power over plan approval.
"In the past, the snag has been something to the disliking of Celina City Council," Weinerman said. "We need to make sure that doesn't happen again."
A 1987 law required every county to start, or be part of a solid waste district with a comprehensive plan that lays out how trash is handled and sets up funding for recycling services. The law calls for a 10-year management plan that is updated every three years. Because of disagreements, Mercer County is still hammering out the first update. The major sticking point in getting the plan approved has been the life-span of the Celina Sanitary Landfill. Currently per-ton fees collected at the landfill provide about $250,000 per year to support recycling services and education, all the county needs for the plan. Officials estimate the landfill is only two years away from reaching capacity.
When and if the landfill closes, the per-ton fees collected would stop and the funding plan in the solid waste management plan would kick-in. Under that plan, each parcel of improved property would be responsible to pay a small annual service charge for county recycling services. Monday, officials said that charge could be in the neighborhood of $1 per month.
While the details are not yet complete, officials said the new revenue that will be needed could be raised with an annual service charge, and a per-bag user fee. Currently, many county residents, and Celina residents, receive county waste and recycling services bycontributing though trash bag purchases.
The county solid waste budget currently pays for subsidizing a recycling center, waste education and an annual household hazardous waste pickup day. The proposed plan would keep the annual solid waste budget near $250,000, but relies only on $150,000 to be collected directly from county residents as a service charge. The remaining costs are planned to be paid through user fees, donations and grants.
The plan still needs to be approved by a county planning committee before it is sent to villages, townships and Celina for individual approval.