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Village Council— Ways to reduce waste eyed

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How can Village government collect villagers’ solid waste and recyclables in the most environmentally sustainable manner? And could changes in current Village rate structures encourage villagers to reduce their solid waste? Council members addressed these topics briefly at their May 4 meeting, as Village Manager Patti Bates announced that the Village’s current contract with Rumpke for solid waste removal expires in August. Bates will bring to an upcoming Council meeting a Request for Proposal, or RFP, for the new solid waste contract.

“We know what the village wants,” said Council member Lori Askeland, stating that villagers seek policies that “emphasize reduction of waste and incentivize recycling.”

The Village’s current solid waste contract is with Rumpke, which collects residents’ solid waste and recyclables on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as downtown solid waste from trash containers. To so do, Rumpke sends two trucks to the village each of these days, totalling six truck trips per week. While some villagers have asked if the number of Rumpke truck visits could be cut in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this change would be difficult, Bates said, due to the company’s need to do downtown trash pickup as well as that of residents.

Another suggestion from some villagers is to change the Village’s current tiered rate structure to one that offers better value to those who produce less waste, Bates said. This suggestion was also made by Tom Clevenger of Zero Waste Yellow Springs, in a letter to Council.

“I fully agree with such a change and think it would incentivize diversion and decrease consumption; it also makes sense that those residents who produce substantially less waste should pay less for the service,” Clevenger wrote. He suggested a variety of approaches, including adding smaller sized bins to the tier system to allow reduced rates and a per bag collection rate.

In his letter, Clevenger also stated he doesn’t see an environmental benefit to reducing the number of Rumpke truck trips to the village other than a potential reduction in noise, as fewer trips would just mean that larger trucks or more trucks would need to pick up the trash on fewer days. Clevenger also discouraged Council from contracting with an outside company for curbside compost, another suggestion offered by some villagers. Instituting the practice would likely increase costs to villagers, bring more trucks to town, and the finished compost would benefit locations outside the village rather than those locally. Instead, Clevenger suggested that Village government pursue local compost collection options that keep compost and jobs in the village. He also suggested that the Village return to the practice of providing its own solid waste and recycling services, in order to increase local jobs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions from trucks coming from outside.

Bates is conferring with Clevenger, Tom Dietrich of the Environmental Commission and Dana Starts of Greene County Solid Waste on writing the new RFP for solid waste, she wrote in an email this week.

In other Council business:
• Council member Marianne MacQueen suggested that Council address issues regarding the local police department at its second meeting in June.

While Council had planned to focus on the question of whether the Village should continue to fund a member of the ACE Task Force, MacQueen encouraged Council to take a broader look at the topic. The ongoing national focus on police/community relations along with recent local concerns have made the topic one of interest to many villagers, she said, as evidenced in two well-attended police/community forums in recent months.

“I think we should have a conversation about what we want our police department to be,” MacQueen said, suggesting that one aspect of the conversation could be philosophical and another financial, perhaps necessitating two conversations. Council members agreed to discuss the topic at their June 15 meeting, and perhaps also at a second Council meeting.

• Members of the Village Energy Board urged Council to move ahead as quickly as possible with a private community solar project. The purpose of the project is to provide villagers who aren’t able to put solar panels on their property the opportunity to purchase panels at a private community project, which is different than a project sponsored by a municipality.

Energy Board members have repeatedly encouraged Council to help support the private solar project by updating its current solar power ordinance to allow virtual net metering, a request they repeated at the May 4 meeting. EB members have pursued the private community solar model instead of a Village government-controlled model because Village staff seemed to have little interest in solar, EB member Dan Rudolf has said; however, at a recent meeting Village Superintendent of Electric Johnnie Burns stated his preference that the Village have control over the project.

But pursuing a municipal solar project shouldn’t get in the way of moving ahead with a private community solar project, according to Rudolf.

“It would be great if we could do it all,” Rudolf said.

Energy Board member Rick Walkey also encouraged Council to move ahead quickly to support the community solar project, because a federal funding opportunity will expire next year.

Manager Bates stated that she is interested in visiting two communities that have a community solar project: Berea, Ky., and Wyandotte, Mich., and could use funds from her travel expense budget for the trips.

Council members encouraged Village staff to meet with Energy Board members to identify different array and financing options. In an email, Bates said she is meeting with the Energy Board this week.

• Council unanimously approved the second and final reading that will allow an increase in some zoning permit fees. The Village last raised these fees in 1993, according to Village Assistant Manager John Yung.

• Council unanimously agreed to support the purchase by the Glen Helen Association of 46 acres of property owned by the late David and Barbara Case. The property, on State Route 343, was “extraordinarily well cared for by the Cases,” according to Glen Director Nick Boutis, who said the land has been a core piece of the Country Commons green space plan since 1960. No Village money is involved in the purchase, Boutis said.

• Council’s next meeting is Monday, June 1, at 6 p.m. in Council chambers.


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