Volume 104, Number 13 - March 29, 2007
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Recycling board responds
Sublette Citizens for Recycling Board heard a group of citizens voice their concerns with the Board and the Recycling Center last week, after the citizens had been told by the county officials to speak to the board first. Wendi Schwartz arrived at the board meeting complete with a petition containing 177 signatures that asked for the resignations of Marti Siepp, the Recycling Center Coordinator, chair Caroline Sulenta and board members David Dockens and Diane Alexander. The petition did not ask for the resignation of Sally Mackey, who is one of the original recycling board members.
The board currently has one open seat to be filled by the county. County Clerk Mary Lankford was unavailable for comment as to when this may be filled. The board limited public comment to three minutes for the dozen or so concerned citizens. Dockens acted as chair for Sulenta, who felt ill.
The issues of concern were much the same as those that have been presented to the commissioners in recent weeks, including accountability of the board, disarray of the center, currently unavailable recycling services and productiveness of the center.
“I’m stirring the pot for recycling because recycling must be done. It is a mandatory situation that we have in our community and across the world,” Schwartz told the Board, which asked for a copy of the signed petition. “We must recycle and we must get that recycling center back on track and I don’t think that’s getting done with the staff there now,” Schwartz explained.
J.J. Hadley, the new grocery manager at Faler’s, told the board that the store had a “huge problem” with boxes not getting picked up, and ultimately blowing out of the bin. He said that the garbage bin had recently been expanded to allow space for recyclables that are not getting picked up. Dockens told Hadley that if Faler’s broke the boxes down, it would “speed things up” and reduce the manpower the recycling center would have had to provide. Hadley noted that the store’s employees could “probably do that.”
“I resigned from the recycling board when it became obvious to me that an agenda that was not recycling became apparent,” Judi Adler told the Board of her December 2005 resignation, when several of the current board members were first appointed. Adler asked the board what had happened to curbside pickup, business pickup and a “recycling center we could be proud of.”
Dockens responded, asking Adler, “Tell me how much Pinedale and Sublette County have grown in the last two years?” “I think there are other things at work making this a failure, not the increase in population in Sublette County,” Adler answered.
Answering some of Sue Kramer’s requests for information, Dockens answered that coordinator Siepp earned $17 an hour for her 20-hour position. The board had previously been reluctant to release this number. More of Kramer’s concerns were addressed in a packet Siepp will release this week.
The board told Julie Land that recyclables had never been hauled to the dump before they were once in the last few weeks, and that it was a joint decision of Siepp’s and Dockens.
“I would like to hear some accountability,” Land told the board, adding, “I’d like to hear what you see that you can improve on.” Dockens explained that the board is looking at purchasing a new baler, which could cost $60,000. They are also looking for a new facility, a larger one, in order to better handle the volume of recyclables and store the bales inside so they do not get ruined and rejected by the dealer.
“What can you tell me that you’re going to do now?” Land pressed. “Keep plugging away,” Dockens answered. To help alleviate some workforce problems, the board decided to start a volunteer’s night, beginning April 16, when citizens can help sort and bale recyclables and clean up the center.
Profit and loss statements from 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 were compiled by Siepp, and released to the Roundup, putting some concrete numbers to the citizens’ concerns.
In an interview, Siepp pointed out that total income for this year was $103,319.88 with all but $415.88 coming from the county. The Town of Pinedale, Siepp said, had committed to $2,500, but that had not been received and she “had not pushed it.” Patty Racich, Clerk of Pinedale, noted “What they need to do is get us a service contract and a signed voucher,” and the town will give the promised monies.
For the nine months of this fiscal year, the profit-loss sheet shows an income of $8,588.29 from sale of cardboard, with total earned revenue from recyclables of $11,917.03. That is an average of $1,324 a month.
For the last fiscal year, July 2005 to June 2006, the income of the board was $67,161, with about $65,000 coming from the county. In that year, the board earned $15,336 from cardboard recycling, and $18,478 from total recyclables. That year averaged a bit more, at $1,539 a month. However, sales of cardboard was almost double what the nine months of this year has brought in, an issue of concern for Kramer in an interview. “I don’t understand that,” Kramer said. “I wouldn’t think prices should drop more than 50 percent for [the board] to have recycled more.”
Siepp also compiled tonnages for July 2005-January 2006 (just after her term began) and the same period in this year. These numbers show that in this period, 181.69 tons were recycled, as compared to 147 tons the previous period. So far this fiscal year, the board has suffered through much more outlays of cash for maintenance and repairs, adding up to $9,867 so far. In the last fiscal year, just under $3,000 was spent on maintenance and repairs.
As to the call for resignations, Sulenta said in an interview, “There’s nothing to respond to.” None of the current board members have plans to submit their resignations. The minutes from last week’s meeting reflects that Sulenta moved that Dockens act as Chairman for the remainder of her term. That motion passed, changing Sulenta to a board member, Dockens as Chair and Sally Mackey as Vice-Chair.
Schwartz says she will still call for the board’s resignation, noting “They didn’t answer some of our questions, and their responses did not address the issues,” pointing to some of the board’s responses as “untrue.” Schwartz plans to re-approach the county commissioners with this issue, she added. On Tuesday, she noted that the center had picked up her recycling from Café on Pine, and that the baler had been running when she visited the center, as the commissioners advised. “Why all of a sudden, after I’ve brought this to the forefront, is actual work being done?” Schwartz asked.
Kramer said she has submitted requests for more information and is waiting to receive answers. She was not satisfied with the board’s response to the public’s concerns. “I don’t feel that the board took the time to really address us and the issues,” she explained, adding “I had expected the board to contact us to meet with us to discuss these issues.”
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