Allegan Township will put recycling fee on August ballot

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Allegan Township officials are pursuing an increased recycling fee to fund curbside recycling.

The township has two large bins for residents who pay a voluntary annual $25 surcharge to use to dispose of their recyclable materials at the township hall.

“We have an increase in the number of people who come and throw the incorrect things in our recycling bins,” said township treasurer Jane Waanders. “We seem to be their public trash service all of a sudden.”

That trash has become expensive. The hauler that picks up the bins charges the township for the trash it finds in them and has to dispose of.

“That money comes out of our recycling fund; so we have less money to recycle,” Waanders said.

Township board members passed a resolution updating their interlocal agreement with Allegan County Resource Recovery—which handles the county’s recycling program and contracts with haulers for recycling services for participating townships—and another resolution approving ballot language for a $36 surcharge, for five years, for voters to decide in the August primary.

The annual $11 increase is expected to give the township enough revenue to provide curbside recycling service.

“It’s been a challenge,” Schulz said, noting the township did have security cameras watching the bins but that officials couldn’t always figure out who dropped things off illegally. “If this doesn’t pass, we’ll probably put a fence around this out here and have designated hours with an attendant. That’s about all we can do.”

Waanders said older residents have said the central drop-off at the township hall can be difficult to use in the winter due to the snow; the sliding doors on the bins also freeze shut.

This same surcharge is the same fee seven municipalities passed last year, as a newer law made it possible.

The current surcharge is voluntary; Waanders said 91 percent of taxpaying households paid the fee.

The $36 surcharge the township is asking voters to approve would be mandatory for every household. If passed, the new fee would replace the old one. If it doesn’t pass, the township will still be able to collect the $25 voluntary fee.

The $36 surcharge is made possible through Public Act 69. It allows for a surcharge that ranges in size from $4 to $50. County commissioners earlier last year chose to set the chargeable amount at $36. Local municipalities can’t request a different amount.

Waanders said she didn’t know yet if it would mean the recycling would be picked up once or twice per month; that would be determined by the contract negotiated by Resource Recovery.

At this point, the township expects to continue leaf pickups in high density neighborhoods as well as its cleanup days, even if the township begins curbside recycling.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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