Kokomo Might Tap Reserves To Fund Planned Recyling Service

The city of Kokomo hopes to add curbside recycling by the end of the year and pay for it in part by lessening payments for trash hauling.

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Photo: Indiana Public Media

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight says if the city can send away fewer tons of garbage each year, the savings that would generate would help defray the cost of recycling.

The city of Kokomo hopes to add curbside recycling for city residents by the end of the year and pay for it in part by lessening payments for trash hauling.   Officials think it’s also likely the city will have to dig into its reserves to pay for the new service.

Each year, Kokomo pays about a million dollars in what are known as “tipping fees”.  That’s the amount of money an entity is charged to have refuse hauled away and then have the garbage truck’s hopper “tipped” at a landfill.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight says if the city can send away fewer tons of garbage each year, the savings that would generate would help defray the cost of recycling.

But Bloomington officials, who’ve operated a recycling program for decades, haven’t found those numbers to be equal, says Public Works Director Susie Johnson.

“Close to 80 percent of the costs of running a sanitation department is in manpower, vehicles and fuel,” Johnson says.  “It’s not in the tipping fees.”

Goodnight concedes the point, but says since the city has nearly $10 million in its rainy day fund, he feels any overage can be paid out of city coffers, rather than charging citizens a fee.

“Let’s say that to do curbside recycling it’s not quite offset,” Goodnight says. “The reduction in tipping fees do not match up with the costs associated with recycling.  We can absorb that.”

Johnson notes her city’s costs for fuel have gone up significantly in recent years and says each recycling bin the city purchases costs about eight or nine dollars.

For the approximately 24,000 households in Kokomo, buying bins at a similar price would add about $200,000 to the upfront cost of the program.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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