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Carbon commissioners discuss solid waste, including recycling

Published August 30. 2013 05:00PM

Carbon County officials say they want to work with the municipalities on solid waste issues.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board discussed the recent Solid Waste Advisory Committee meeting, which had representation from only four municipalities.

Commissioner William O'Gurek said the county, even though it abolished its solid waste department, has responsibilities under Act 101, the municipal waste planning, recycling and waste reduction act.

Under the act, the county is still responsible for reporting to the state Department of Environmental Protection in regards to tonnage of solid waste and recycling that has been collected.

Since the county abolished its solid waste department earlier this year, employees in the county Office of Planning and Development have been handling the reports.

"We wanted to let the municipalities know what was taking place," he said. "One of the reasons we called the SWAC meeting was to continue the work we need to do. I think there is due diligence owed to solid waste issues in Carbon County and I would hope in the future more municipalities would attend.

"We just didn't eliminate the program and walk away from it," O'Gurek added. "We know there is a lot of work to be done in solid waste in the future and we will acknowledge our responsibility and we welcome the municipalities to join so we can do it together."

Commissioners Wayne Nothstein and Thomas J. Gerhard echoed O'Gurek's thoughts.

Both stressed the importance of attending the SWAC meetings so the county can continue to work with the municipalities on these issues.

"The municipalities have a responsibility also and in working together we are going to need a lot more participation from municipalities at these meetings," Nothstein said. "They should have their input and I think that was something that was lacking previously. We want to pull it back together and do what's right for the community."

"We have a lot of work to do yet and are looking forward to working with the municipalities," Gerhard added.

O'Gurek noted that the county will work on updating an ordinance that was adopted in 1992 addressing a number of solid waste management issues, including licensing and tipping fees.

The county is no longer allowed to charge licensing fees to haulers, but haulers will still be responsible for reporting the collection volumes to the county.

The $4 per ton tipping fee is also being looked at because the fee was originally collected to help run the recycling program.

O'Gurek said that since the recycling program has been abolished, the county has still collected the tipping fee but has not used the money.

The commissioners are batting around ideas on what to do with the fee, including to not collect the money anymore and return it to the municipalities.

O'Gurek said the county will also look into whether it can feasibly continue the phone book recycling program; as well as options on continuing to hold electronic recycling events.

Nothstein said that the county hopes to hold a number of electronic recycling events through partnering with various businesses and organizations that have expressed an interested in hosting an event.

He added that the county has heard nothing but good things from municipalities who now contract with outside recycling vendors.

"Those that were in attendance (at the SWAC meeting) appear to be happy with the new carriers for recycling," Nothstein said, pointing out that most are now single stream recycling.

"We will address all these issues," O'Gurek said. "Solid waste was a difficult decision for us. The good thing is, is we are hearing from municipalities that their programs are working pretty well."

Gerhard said that most of the municipalities he spoke with are excited about the single stream recycling because they can collect more than what the county could accept.

In other matters, the commissioners acted on the following items.

• Approved the agreement with Teamster Correctional Officer regarding grievance 30327.

• Approved the release of funds under the memorandum of understanding between the county and Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau to give Beltzville Lions Club $300 from the Hotel Tax fund for fundraising purposes.

• Approved stenograph writer protection plan contracts for the steno machine in courtroom 3. Costs shall be $445 for the Mira M3 Writer and $369 for the Mira Writer.

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