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Josephine County considering recycling plan

Rural Josephine County residents can request curbside recycling pickup early next summer if a proposal by Southern Oregon Sanitation is approved by the county Board of Commissioners.

Trent Carpenter, assistant general manager of the sanitation company, presented to the board an outline of the proposal Thursday afternoon. All three board members approved of the idea but were unclear about how to complete the process.

"I don't know how this all fits into the big picture," Commissioner Simon Hare said.

He and fellow Commissioner Cherryl Walker suggested the proposal be reviewed by the county's legal department. Once the plan is approved by legal it would advance to an administrative workshop for discussion by the board. Then it would be slated on a future business meeting agenda for potential approval.

Carpenter said the plan calls for a 13.7 percent across-the-board increase in rates for all SOS customers, regardless of whether they recycle.

If the program is approved as presented, the rate increase would begin in January and the service would start in June or July. The revenue collected in the interim would be used to purchase the necessary trucks and equipment.

The current rate structure has several tiers, but most rural residential customers have either a 65-gallon trash cart, which costs $29 per month, or a 35-gallon cart, which costs $16.50 per month.

Carpenter said that even with the rate increase, some customers could see their total bill decrease because they will be able to switch to a 35-gallon cart for their trash rather than the 65-gallon cart.

The proposal has already been approved by the Solid Waste Agency, which is a seven-member board with three members each from Josephine County and the city of Grants Pass and one member from the city of Cave Junction.

Carpenter said Southern Oregon has 6,410 customers outside the Grants Pass and Cave Junction city limits. Based on the amount of recyclable items picked up in those two cities each year, the potential impact could be 2.3 million pounds of recyclable articles annually, items which would probably be part of the trash service otherwise.

Those numbers prompted Commission Chairman Keith Heck to say of the proposal, "It's certainly better than putting that stuff in the landfill."

The program would be the same as the curbside service offered in Grants Pass and Cave Junction, which means that all allowable recyclable items can be placed in the same cart.

The cart should be placed outside the night before the day of service and be kept clear of vehicles and other objects.

Reach reporter Jim Moore at 541-474-3721 or jmoore@thedailycourier.com