Blairsville may revamp or drop recycling
One person's trash may be another's treasure in some cases. But that's not the case for Blairsville Borough — where high labor costs and careless users have made the community's drop-off recycling program a losing proposition from a budgetary standpoint.
Borough manager Tim Evans reported at Tuesday's council meeting that Blairsville has qualified for a performance grant of $247 from the state Department of Environmental Protections, based on the 57.9 tons of materials collectively recycled by Blairsville citizens and businesses in 2012.
But, according to Evans, that award won't even cover the recent $400 cost of replacing tires on trailers that are used to haul the borough's collected recyclables to the Indiana County Recycling Center north of Homer City.
Evans calculated that in 2012 it cost the borough more than $14,000 in labor — for a total of 572 man-hours — to haul the filled trailers weekly from the borough building to the recycling center and to clean up daily the mess caused by those who leave trash, including mattresses, instead of recyclable items at the borough site.
“We probably spend an hour a day cleaning that up. Mondays are particularly bad,” Evans said. “People leave it a mess.”
It's a problem that council has discussed before.
Another problem occurs when those who drop off recyclable glass or plastic containers place them in incorrect bins on the trailers — each of which has been labeled for a specific type of recyclable item. Such “commingled” bins have been rejected upon arrival at the recycling center, Evans noted.
He said the drop-off recycling program was started with the intent of reducing the amount of refuse picked up and hauled to the local landfill by the Blairsville Municipal Authority's garbage trucks. “But that's not what's happening,” he said. “The authority has seen no decline in their tipping fees” at the landfill.
Evans said the recycling trailers have become costly — no so much in cash spent, but in lost time that borough workers could be spending on other tasks. “They're really becoming a drain on us, time-wise,” he said.
Evans asked council to consider alternatives to the trailers or, if nothing else is feasible, to possibly discontinue the recycling program.
While acknowledging the importance of recycling for the environment, he suggested, “If folks are that passionate about recycling, they can take it to the center in Homer City.”
One avenue to look into, he suggested, is a bin that Waste Management can provide to residents that accepts multiple kinds of recyclable items for later sorting by the company.
President John Bertolino said council would review the situation. Mayor Ron Evanko suggested the topic might be addressed by council's fiscal committee.
Council rejected all four bids received for the borough's summer paving program and decided to seek a second round of bids that will not include paving of the parking lot at the Blairsville fire hall.
Evans said the work in the fire hall lot, which would include base repairs, represented about half of the paving needs included in the initial bids. “We thought including the fire hall would bring the price down, and obviously it didn't,” he said.
Bid prices ranged from $132,142, submitted by El Grande of Monessen, to $191,272, from Ligonier Construction.
Due to extra state funding that was approved for road projects this year, some area contractors are already booked up with PennDOT paving jobs, Evans noted.
Portions of Serell and Bentley drives were among borough streets included in the initial paving bids and will be retained in the second round.
Grant sought for officer
Leann Chaney, borough grant writer and executive director of the Blairsville Community Development Authority, reported she plans to apply for a federal COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grant that would allow the borough to add a full-time officer to the police department. The application is due Monday.
If the grant is approved, the department would have three full-time officers in addition to himself, Police Chief Michael Allman said.
Allman said there has been no marked increase in incidents in the borough but added that a greater police presence is needed to help keep incident numbers down.
With an additional full-timer, he said, “We can run two officers during some of the times that are more busy than others.” Allman suggested that the addition of two full-time officers actually is warranted to boost police presence.
In his report to council on police activities in May, Allman noted that the department had 255 total calls for service, an increase of 66 from May 2013. That activity included just 26 incident reports, up by seven from the monthly reports a year earlier. There were also 25 citations last month, down by 10 from a year earlier; 23 warnings, up by seven; and five cases of driving under the influence, up by four.
Council accepted the resignation of one of its members, Jeff Marshall, from an appointed position on the Blairsville Community Development Authority board of directors. Marshall, who was absent Tuesday along with Ab Dettorre, wrote a letter to council indicating he lacks sufficient time to devote to the authority board.
Council acknowledged receipt of a letter from Jennifer Nadzadi of Blairsville, seeking appointment to the BCDA board. As per standing borough policy, the letter will be held for a month's review before any action is taken.
In her letter, Nadzadi noted she is a member of the Blairsville Rotary and is a CPA and partner in an accounting firm based in Monroeville that is considering opening a Blairsville office.
Acting on letters received last month, council appointed Wendy Wasko to a vacancy on the civil service commission and appointed Brady Hogue and Benjamin Harvey to vacancies on the borough planning commission. In his letter, Harvey noted he previously worked for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program in Little Rock, Ark., taking part in a design review process for new construction proposed in a designated preservation zone.
Council also confirmed the Blairsville Public Library Board's election of James F. Ferguson as one of that board's members.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.