FARMINGTON -- The city's new curbside recycling program is running even as officials scramble to get all of the elements in place to make it a success.
Members of the city council voted Dec. 1 on an ordinance to formally make recycling part of the city code and passed a resolution establishing additional policies governing the program.
They also approved a list of 41 people who formally asked to opt out of the program after a city-imposed deadline of Aug. 7. The list was reviewed by Councilmen Cory Ritz and Sid Young and forwarded to the council for consideration.
The vote to support the new ordinance, the resolution and the opt-out list was unanimous.
The city's program formally went into effect Monday, when crews from Robinson Disposal begin picking up recycling items left in the city's blue containers.
City Manager Max Forbush said Robinson workers were surprised by the heavy volume of items, as it appears people have been saving up recyclable materials.
Even with a heavy start, city officials have been trying to settle details for the new program.
Officials have wrestled for months with how to handle late requests to opt out of the program, even after setting a deadline in early August. Of concern is the possibility that allowing additional residents to opt out of the program after the deadline could put the resident participation close to the 80 percent mark -- a benchmark considered critical to make the program cost effective.
The city's new recycling resolution sets parameters for a possible exemption from the program in the future. It includes single people older than 65, couples older than 70, people with medical or physical limitations or other "good cause" reasons.
Officials also have elements in place that mean they could stall people's ability to opt out of the program if participation hits the 80 percent level. New residents moving into the city will be required to participate in the program if they move into a single-family or two-dwelling unit, according to the guidelines.
The resolution also gives officials the ability to enforce a monthly fee associated with the program. Those refusing use of city-delivered recycling containers will be required to pay the monthly fee unless exempted by the city council.
Councilman Rick Dutson noted city officials have tried to accommodate concerns about the new program, even as they worried about the increasing number of people seeking to opt out of the initiative.
Young said, in reviewing letters from people who want out of the program, most of the issues came down to logistics and not opposition to recycling itself.