• December 19, 2014

Killeen must take careful look at recycling initiative

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Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2014 4:30 am

Killeen is preparing to launch a mandatory citywide recycling program — a major initiative that will help the environment while generating revenue for the city.

But considering the magnitude of the endeavor, the city seems to be taking a less-than-thorough approach to choosing a contractor to process the recyclable materials.

The city first sent out a request for proposals on Sept. 1, seeking responses from companies capable of processing and marketing the city’s recyclable materials.

Four proposals were submitted — three of them from out-of-town companies and one from a Killeen-based business.

A seven-member committee then evaluated the proposals and ranked them using several weighted criteria, including experience and quality; fiscal impact, location; and public education. The four proposals were then given scores and ranked accordingly.

On Jan. 14, the committee — headed by the city’s solid waste director, Michael Cleghorn — briefed the council on its recommendation to hire Austin-based Balcones Resources. The problem is, the council only saw the information pertaining to Balcones. None of the proposals from the other three companies were made available in the briefing.

On Tuesday, the council did get a briefing in which the four proposals were presented side-by-side. But following the presentation, a representative of Killeen-based Centex Metals complained that he’d never seen some of the figures attributed to his company’s proposal.

In the end, council members wisely decided to defer their decision on choosing a contractor until Feb. 4 — after they’d had a chance to study the numbers.

It’s a good thing, because some of the numbers definitely merit scrutiny.

For one thing, the disparity between the per-ton price paid to the city for recyclable materials is huge. Centex, ranked third by the committee, is offering to pay the city $60 per ton, compared to Balcones’ proposed $5 offer. Second-place WILCO offered $10 and Texas Disposal Services offered $1.99 to $4.99.

The proposed revenue from Centex for processing an estimated 7,200 tons of materials annually would be $805,000 — which includes a monthly $1,125 lease payment for the city’s transfer station. By contrast, the estimated annual revenue from top-rated Balcones would be $122,400.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Dan Corbin asked a Balcones representative whether Centex could realistically pay the city $60 a ton. It may have been a legitimate question, but it should have been directed at the Centex representative present, not his competitor. With Balcones offering $5 a ton, Corbin likely knew the answer he was going to get before he asked the question.

With so much money potentially on the table, committee members owed it to the council — and the taxpayers — to interview Centex management at length before making a recommendation, something that did not happen.

As council members move forward with the process, it would be in their best interest to examine not just the committee’s scores, but also the potential long-term financial impact of their selection of a contractor. While several factors must be taken into account, hiring a local company — with its potential to create local jobs — should be a prime consideration.

Secondly, with a rate study scheduled before the recycling program is initiated, the council should carefully examine the citywide initiative’s cost to residents.

Temple and Belton each started recycling programs this month, and the impact on residents is minimal. In fact, Belton’s monthly rate will drop 72 cents. Temple’s rate increased by just 40 cents.

By contrast Killeen’s rate could rise almost $6 for a resident who is currently using the city’s smallest-size trash can and not participating in the current voluntary recycling program.

Where’s the incentive to recycle when that kind of rate increase is involved?

Mandatory citywide, single-stream recycling is a major initiative that will benefit Killeen and affect all of its residents.

It’s important for the city to take things slow and get it right the first time.

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7 comments:

  • DavidTX posted at 2:05 pm on Sat, Feb 8, 2014.

    DavidTX Posts: 2

    There are many single people not to mention those of us that are Senior Citizens on fixed incomes that dispense very little trash/solid waste. We currently have 3 different size containers that we can choose from with different monthly charges. Those garbage/trash containers are currently in use. Why is it necessary/mandatory for us to pay the same amount as a family of 4-6 or more?
    Is this just another example of a boondoggle so often associated with our great city of Killeen????????

     
  • VoiceofReason posted at 9:48 pm on Wed, Jan 29, 2014.

    VoiceofReason Posts: 1

    Table this motion until this can be put on a ballot for the citizens. There are some of us who have been recycling for over 20 years and are taking our recycle items to Ft. Hood. This program should be free to the citizens and those of us who have been using Ft. Hood to recycle should be able to opt out. Since the city will be making a profit from any recycling program that is voted on by the citizens, then there should be a gradual implementation so that the program is truly free to the residents of Killeen. Just make sure to take time to conduct your studies on how to implement the program without making the citizens pay for a program that will be making a profit and should be a win-win for the citizens, landfill, and city.

     
  • wilcfry posted at 2:14 pm on Mon, Jan 27, 2014.

    wilcfry Posts: 93

    "Where’s the incentive to recycle when that kind of rate increase is involved?"

    The rate increase had me confused as well, if the entire program is supposed to be a revenue-generator for the city. Currently, I'm paying $2.48 per month for the privilege of having a small blue tub in which we pack (and I mean *pack*; it's not big enough) our recyclables.

    I would certainly understand a few one-time fees since the city does need to acquire many thousands of new containers and distribute them to households, but since the material itself will generate revenue, there is no explanation for a continuing monthly fee.

    But if anyone needs an actual incentive to recycle in the first place, I encourage them to find out where Killeen's trash is currently dumped and drive by to take a look. I used to drive past a landfill in Oklahoma on my daily rounds and it was amazing how that sight (a mountain, where there used to a valley) changed my outlook.

     
  • Eliza posted at 7:33 pm on Sun, Jan 26, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 896

    @a major initiative that will help the environment while generating revenue for the city.
    -----------------
    Since the tax payers of Killeen are suppose to benefit by receiving revenue from the recycled materials that will benefit all of the citizens in some manner. Why are the citizens being charged for the containers or the service. It really isn't a service if the citizens are supplying the products (recyclables) that will be the reason for the revenue.


    @During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Dan Corbin asked a Balcones representative whether Centex could realistically pay the city $60 a ton. It may have been a legitimate question, but it should have been directed at the Centex representative present, not his competitor. With Balcones offering $5 a ton, Corbin likely knew the answer he was going to get before he asked the question.
    ---------------------
    I would think the same on the Corbin answer. If he didn't know the answer that would be forth coming, he isn't the one who should be sitting in the mayors chair.
    Why the mayor would pose that type of question to Dick Young's competitor ,only he would know. What kind of answer did he expect?
    Very poor judgment in asking the question in the manner he did., I believe.


    @ Temple and Belton each started recycling programs this month, and the impact on residents is minimal. In fact, Belton’s monthly rate will drop 72 cents. Temple’s rate increased by just 40 cents.
    -----------------
    The answer is simple then ,let whoever worked the recycling deal for Belton and Temple handle the situation for Killeen's residents. Since they seem to know a lot better way to represent their citizens, then Killeen's city government or the committee chosen to do it have done in represent our city tax payers.

     
  • abetterlifeinkilleen posted at 7:02 pm on Sun, Jan 26, 2014.

    abetterlifeinkilleen Posts: 2

    I hope Killeen Citizens read this article and read about Balcones Resources Inc.'s new $25 million recycling plant in Northeast Austin. Then ask yourself if you want this City to force upon you a mandatory citywide recycling program. Don't get me wrong as I believe in recycling and I believe in protecting our environment. I am in opposition of someone mandating that I recycle and then then telling me that I have purchase a 96-gallon garbage can for a monthly BASE FEE of $20.89 and I stress the monthly Base Fee. I read that Balcones Resources Inc. can sell a block of crush cans for $1000 and that they can pound out dozens of them daily equaling $12,000 per day x 6 days $72,000 per week give or take. This is something that citizens should vote upon before this goes into effect.

     
  • Alvin posted at 11:47 am on Sun, Jan 26, 2014.

    Alvin Posts: 250

    Once again the city 'corporate' staff, which is indicative of how this Killeen city council seems to be mismanaging the city of Killeen and how this township seems to function on a 'Get them to vote and then we'll let them read what has just transpired' aspect.

    When first introduced, it was 'go for recycle – free of charge for the inhabitants of Killeen, it's good for the environment. That was quickly changed to 'maybe the the residents will have to pay a 'marginal' fee'. Now as I understand it, with this latest development, there is going to be a $6.00/month fee attached to what was originally billed as a 'free program – good for the environment'.

    And the way it was handled, or mishandled, First only a single program was shown to the Council members, the one that the committee wanted. When certain council members balked, as I understand it, they returned with the 4 RFQ's, 'Request For Quote', and wanted the council members to 'put it to a vote'. This when they had not even completed a Rate Study' to warrant what the rate should be. Again, it's the old 'cart before the horse' aspect of management I personally feel.

    And as the rates, it's gone 'free' to a nominal $3.50 I think it was to now a resounding $6.00/month, AND IT HASN'T EVEN BEEN VOTED ON.

    Yes I agree with @Dr Strangelove, Table this motion - put it on the agenda for the next election and let the patrons of the city decide whether or not they want to fund this sort of program. Besides, isn't the city going to get paid, a kick back of sorts, for this program? It seems to me that I saw something about it.

    City council, study this program closely. That's all I've got to say.

     
  • Pete posted at 9:38 am on Sun, Jan 26, 2014.

    Pete Posts: 131

    Pretty much sums up the situation Mr. Miller. Fine job of laying out the facts in a coherent manner. Especially the $6 rise in fees part! Doesn't add up.