Our View: WMU reroute plan seems fair, balanced

A proposed plan to reroute garbage pickup in hopes of keeping the city’s recycling program will likely have a minimal impact on customers while saving money and making a positive impact on the environment.

For month, Winchester Municipal Utilities has been considering ways to continue operating the local recycling program without raising rates or negatively impacting customers.

The need for a shift comes because demand for recyclables is down across the nation because China is buying less and less.

For most of the four years WMU has been operating a recycling program, the program was essentially breaking even.

In June, The Sun reported that due to a host of challenges — including Chinese tariffs, market fluctuations when it comes to the value of the materials and rising operational costs of recycling facilities — continuing to provide this service could cost WMU $30,000 this fiscal year.

The problem was it was cheaper to take a ton of material to the landfill than a recycling center.

So WMU was faced with a challenge — weighing the benefits of the recycling program against the cost and the impact on customers.

The plan proposed to the Winchester Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening is not perfect, but it allows the program to continue operating without raising rates to make up for the additional costs.

WMU General Mike Flynn told commissioners the plan is to to absorb the costs of the recycling program by realigning its collection schedule and becoming more efficient. Currently, WMU runs five routes for solid waste on Monday and Tuesday and five routes for recycling on Thursday and Friday. The new proposal would divide the city into four areas and four routes. Each collection day, crews would serve one area and collect everything: solid waste, recycling, yard waste and large items, he said.

Collection in downtown and the central business district would not be affected.

The change would take two trucks off the road, which would reduce expenses and add a second person to each truck on the route, which increases safety and efficiency.

Most residents will keep one of their current collection dates, he said. Instead of putting their garbage can out on Monday and recycling on Thursday, they would put all their cans out on Monday, for example.

With no anticipated rate increase, this plan seems like the best avenue to saving the recycling program. It offers at least some sort of fair balance.

The city commissioners did not vote on the matter this week, but plan to take it up again at the Oct. 23 meeting.

The public should attend this meeting to express their concerns, ask questions or express their support for the proposed changes.