In a cost-cutting move, the Oak Ridge City Council tonight will consider ending the rewards part of the city’s recycling program.
Ending those rewards, which can be redeemed for discounts at local businesses, could save about $124,000, city officials said.
Also tonight, the City Council will consider approving a five-year, 100 percent tax break for Protomet. The incentive could help the parts manufacturer more than double the size of its plant on Larson Drive in the Bethel Valley Industrial Park and add 20-30 workers.
The tax break is officially known as a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, or PILOT, and it has been endorsed by the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board. Oak Ridge City Mark S. Watson has also recommended it.
The PILOT would be used for the second phase of Protomet’s expansion. Watson said Protomet has been encouraged to hire local employees, and 40 percent of its workers are from Oak Ridge.
He said the city’s PILOT program normally allows 50 percent of the projected taxes to be abated for an average 10 years.
“The request for a 100 percent abatement for five years is roughly equivalent for the same amount, which I believe to be acceptable,” Watson said.
He said Protomet, which produces mirror assemblies for boats, among other things, would continue to pay taxes on the first phase of its expansion, or roughly $26,000 per year in property taxes.
The RecycleBank Reward Program has been in Oak Ridge since March 2009.
Oak Ridge Public Works Director Gary Cinder said RecycleBank recently notified Waste Connections that it will end the individual reward program on April 15 and convert to a community-based program. Under that program, each home would be awarded the average of all recyclables on their route. So, if recyclables were picked up from 500 homes on a route, each home would receive 1/500 of the total weight collected on that day’s route, Cinder said.
Waste Connections, the city’s garbage contractor, has offered to let the city stay with RecycleBank as a community-based program or drop the program. If the city drops the program, curbside recycling would continue, but there would no longer be any rewards for recycling.
The Waste Connections bill to the city would be reduced by $0.84 per household per month, which adds up to $123,972 each year.
Cinder said residents will still be able to access their accumulated reward points until they have either used them all, or the account has been inactive for one year.
He said the Waste Connections contract was recently amended to include an additional 654 homes at an extra $110,657 per year.
“Because of this extra cost and the pressures it will exert on next year’s budget, staff is proposing the elimination of the RecycleBank program and diverting those savings to offset the cost of the higher house count,” Cinder said.
Tonight’s City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom.
The agenda is available here.