RIVERDALE -- City officials voted to initiate a recycling program that gives residents two chances to opt out.
"We want to be straight up with residents. Recycling is coming. It's going to be here," Councilman Alan Arnold said. "I'm not a tree hugger, but I think the city should step up to the plate and swing the bat. It is good for the city and the environment."
The city has yet to select a supplier for the city's recycling cans. Figuring in a 10-week delivery time frame for the supplier to make the cans, City Administrator Larry Hansen said the program will likely begin in August or September.
Although residents may opt out of the program starting in June or July, city officials are encouraging all to give it a try. Those who take part will pay $2.45 each month for the recycling service. At the end of eight months, residents will have a second chance to opt out.
But city council members believe eight months is long enough to create habits and convince even skeptics of the ease of recycling.
"You create habits with recycling. It becomes ingrained and habit-forming the longer you do it," Councilwoman Shelly Jenkins said.
"I feel once people try it for eight months, people are going to do it," Councilman David Gibby said. "People are afraid of something new. Eight months is very relaxing. To have people try it is just good sense to me."
City officials said they based their decision on a recent town meeting.
"People in our community voiced the opinion," Councilman Don Hunt said. "All were in favor for the most part, but the decision to opt out is as important as recycling."
City officials are hoping that 20 percent or less of households opt out of the program in order to keep monthly fees down.
For those 913 residents who are currently paying for second and third garbage cans, the $2.45 monthly recycling charge may save money if it reduces the need for extra cans, Jenkins said. For others, such as residents of patio homes with little driveway and garage space, the size of a 96-gallon can could prove too cumbersome, she said. Jenkins encouraged city officials to consider the possibility of a common centralized recycling location in apartment complexes and other high-density residential areas.
The more residents recycle, the less garbage tipping fees the city may have to pay in the future.
"This is a value to the community at any price it ends up being," Jenkins said. "The real reality is, it will save the city in the long run. Recycling will become a part of garbage service. It's going to be the wave of the future."