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City to conduct public hearing on recycling agreement

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Curbside collection of recyclable materials by a private company could begin shortly after the beginning of the year after action taken by the Roswell City Council at its meeting last week.

Thursday night, the council approved the details of franchise and equipment lease agreements with J&A Recycling, 6367 E. Clovis Highway, and gave its approval to conduct a public hearing on a resolution granting the franchise at its Dec. 10 meeting.

Each item passed with identical 8-2 votes. Councilors Judy Stubbs, Jason Perry, Angela Moore, Jacob Roebuck, Margaret Kennard, Jeanine Best, Savino Sanchez and Barry Foster voted in favor of each while Councilors Juan Oropesa and George Peterson voted against.

If the council approves the resolution next month and it is not challenged by a public petition, then it would go into effect 30 days later.

Ryan Wooley, who is identified as J&A Recycling’s manager in city documents, and Bob Wooley spoke briefly during discussion of the equipment lease, thanking city officials for working with them.

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“It’s been quite a process getting to this point,” Bob Wooley said.

The city, saying it had been subsidizing the recycling program for about three years at a cost of about $225,000 a year, first announced in June it would remove its nine large green drop-off bins and would work with J&A Recycling on a franchise agreement. The removal of the bins was delayed over the summer as work continued on the agreement, including the city’s process of updating city code regarding franchises for solid waste collection.

The bins are still available for the public to use, but the city has now limited materials to aluminum, tin cans and cardboard. City Manager Joe Neeb has said the bins will continue to be available as the city transitions to the franchise with J&A Recycling.

In his comments, Bob Wooley addressed a question City Councilor George Peterson asked earlier in the meeting regarding costs for services. Wooley said residential clients would pay $25 to $35 a month depending on if the client or the business separates items.

Commercial clients will be charged based on how much material is picked up per month, Ryan Wooley said.

“We tried to be as reasonable as possible on the pricing and yet still make enough money to stay in business on this,” Bob Wooley said.

Calls to the company for further information on Monday by the Roswell Daily Record were not returned by press time.

If the city council approves the resolution granting the franchise next month, it would take effect 30 days later unless challenged by a public petition. State statute on municipal franchise agreements specifies that a petition must have a number of valid signatures equal to 20% of the number of those who voted in the last regular municipal election.

City Attorney Parker Patterson told the Roswell Daily Record on Monday that, according to the city clerk, 5,565 people voted in the municipal election in March, so a petition would have to have 1,113 valid signatures.

If a successful petition is submitted, then the franchise would be decided by a public election.

By state statute, a franchise is awarded for a period of 25 years. However, the city’s agreement with J&A Recycling calls for it to be renewed every five years during that period.

“I don’t want to grant them 25 years of free reign. I want to be able to check in with them from time to time, and that’s why we’re building the agreement as a companion to the ordinance,” Patterson said.

“So every five years we would renew that or come back to the table and talk about what can be adjusted in the agreement, depending on what the parties want to do,” he said.

If the franchise is not awarded, then the agreement would not go into effect, Patterson said.

The franchise is not exclusive, Patterson said. The city could grant recycling collection franchises to other companies or could even return to offering its own recycling services in the future.

The city has the right to terminate the agreement without cause, and the solid waste director has the ability to temporarily suspend the franchise if he finds the company is not operating within the terms of the agreement, Patterson said.

The equipment lease allows the company to use several pieces of city equipment at its facility: a bobcat loader for $200 a month; a vertical bailer for $50 a month; a horizontal bailer for $75 a month and eight concrete barriers for $25 a month. The lease is for one year with an option to renew for two additional one-year periods.

“We will take it to their facility. It’s their job to install it in their facility and when it terminates, they will uninstall it from their facility and we will come get it from them,” Patterson said.

The company will be responsible for maintenance and insurance of the equipment.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.