Area residents weigh in on proposed fee to save the local recycling center

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A large crowd gathered at the Athens Community Center this week with strong opinions about a proposed parcel fee.

The Athens Hocking Solid Waste District wants to impose the $24 annual fee as part of its 15-year financial plan, which includes purchasing and running the Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers.

Executive Director Jane Forrest Redfern said she can’t do that without the fee.

“All we’re doing is giving you an option to have an asset that we helped build as a community,” Redfern said.

The recycling center lost its garbage contract with the city of Athens to Rumpke in November.

The city was the center’s largest customer, which put it at risk of shutting down.

Because Athens plans to stay with Rumpke through the duration of its contract, the Solid Waste District is looking for a way to replace the lost revenue.

The proposed parcel fee will apply to improved properties in Athens and Hocking counties that receive services from the district.

Some residents at the public hearing were supportive and want to keep local control in Athens. They said they’re willing to pay because it’s an investment in recycling for the future.

They’re also concerned about Rumpke’s new recycling facility in Columbus, where they wouldn’t know where their materials are being sold or what was happening to them. 

Opponents were on the fence about pitching in for the recycling center. One said the center is old and not worth paying for since it’s not required by the district to have.

Opponents also said they don’t want a fee forced on them for services they may not use.

Redfern said she’d have to raise other rates to pay for things like recycling events and the drop-off program if the parcel fee doesn’t pass.

The next opportunity for public comment will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Nelsonville Public Library.