Future of McIntire Recycling Center uncertain
The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority has amended the agreement by which Albemarle County and Charlottesville will pay for the continued operation of the McIntire Recycling Center and the Ivy Materials Utilization Center. Included in the new agreement is a provision that neither locality is required to keep paying after Dec. 31.
The RSWA’s executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr., said in an interview that he cannot rule out the closure of both facilities.
“We have to know what the revenue sources will be to continue the programs,” Frederick said.
To save money, the RSWA cut back hours at the recycling center and stopped accepting hazardous materials such as paint, batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs.
Frederick told the RSWA board at its meeting Tuesday that there has been a substantial increase in complaints related to the cutback in services. The RSWA will offer a one-day collection of hazardous materials next spring, but many board members expressed concern that is not a long-term solution for a community that has grown accustomed to disposing materials safely.
“It’s an issue that all communities are dealing with,” said Judy Mueller, the city’s director of public works. “There’s no magic answer that anyone’s come up with.”
“Hazardous materials are very expensive because there are rigorous federal regulations that have to be complied with,” Frederick said. He added that the nearest landfill permitted to handle such materials is in South Carolina.
The RSWA has traditionally funded operations through the sale of recycled materials collected at McIntire and tipping fees made by trash trucks that use the Ivy facility. However, tonnage received at Ivy has reduced dramatically in the past several years as haulers have chosen to use other, private facilities.
In fiscal year 2005, 105,593 tons of municipal solid waste and other items passed through the Ivy facility. In FY2009, that number had dropped to 69,636 tons.
“In years prior, the RSWA was charging a higher tipping fee at the Ivy transfer station and had rights to control customers from Albemarle and Charlottesville at BFI’s transfer station,” Frederick said. The surplus went toward funding public services such as the McIntire Recycling Center.
In 2007, the city and county signed the local support agreement to address the RSWA’s ongoing operating deficits. The RSWA board also directed Frederick to lower the fees at Ivy because private facilities, such as the one operated by van der Linde Recycling at Zion Crossroads, could provide the service at a lower rate, in part because they do not have to subsidize the free recycling services offered to the public.
In June, the RSWA board passed a $2 million budget for fiscal year 2011, a 47.5 percent decrease from the previous year. Under the new terms of the agreement approved Tuesday, the county is now responsible for paying 85 percent of the cost of continued operations at the Ivy facility and 67 percent of the cost of running the McIntire Recycling Center with the city picking up the balance, 15 percent and 33 percent, respectively. The percentages represent the approximate split by which residents of each jurisdiction use RSWA services.
“My sense of [the City Council] is that we’re interested in exploring continuing to be part of the recycling center at McIntire,” Councilor David Brown said. However, Brown added the city had no reason to continue contributing to the Ivy facility.
In addition to the Ivy and McIntire centers, the RSWA also administers the environmental remediation at the now closed Ivy Landfill. The University of Virginia also contributes to the landfill cleanup. The city, county and UVa are expected to pay $875,480 on the cleanup this year. That direct contribution to the RSWA is governed by a separate 2005 memorandum of understanding, which would continue in effect even if the city ended its support for the RSWA’s other activities next year.
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