July 23, 2014

Medina
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70°F

County could take over recycling after contract expires

MEDINA — Medina County officials are preparing for possible changes in how the county handles recycling.

County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to hire an environmental consulting company to plan for the future of the county’s Central Processing Facility in Westfield Township.

In January, a committee created to study the county’s trash recycling program recommended keeping the facility, but whether it should continue to be operated privately or be taken over by the county remains in question.

The county’s contract with Envision Waste expires in January, and county officials say they plan to put in a bid to run the facility.

“Based on discussions we had at the last policy meeting, we want to keep it operating with increased recyclables extraction and at the best possible cost, but there’s no preference as to whether it is run publicly or privately,” county Sanitary Engineer Amy Lyon-Galvin said.

They’ll work with consultant GT Environmental and law firm Eastman and Smith to form a plan and submit a public request for bids. GT will be paid about $25,000 for its part and Eastman and Smith $40,000.

The county’s $9 million Central Processing Facility — the only one of its kind in the state — was built to comply with House Bill 592, passed in the late 1980s. The law requires that 90 percent of residents have access to recycling and that 25 percent of residential waste and 50 percent total of residential and commercial waste be recycled.

County officials have voiced concerns that the facility’s operations under Envision cost too much and recycle too little.

The committee considered several options to improve the county’s recycling plan, including renewing the contract with Envision with no change in the recycling program.

Envision’s contract provides that the company keeps the first $780,000 it earns from the sale of recyclables. Any profits above that are split 50-50 with the county.

Envision will have to submit a bid if it wants to keep running the facility.

“Certainly, we’ll be interested,” Envision CEO Steven M. Viny said Wednesday. “I think our track record speaks for itself. We’ve operated very successfully, taking the county’s waste uninterrupted for 20 years.

Viny said the 2009 contact “asked for a contractor who could achieve 13½ percent recycling by the county’s metric, and we’ve exceeded that every single year of operation under this contract.”

Another option involved switching to curbside recycling for most residents and drop-off stations in townships. The Central Processing Facility would handle only materials already determined to be recyclable.

Lyon-Galvin said the county just wants the best operation possible, whether the county runs it or not.

“I think the county could operate it; but until we have identified all the objectives through the planning and bidding process, I cannot say definitively that we could operate it better,” she said.

The contract with Envision costs $5 million a year and Lyon-Galvin said county officials do not know yet whether they could operate the facility at a lower cost.

Lyon-Galvin said GT and Eastman and Smith likely will begin work in May to have a bid package ready by August. The county will not submit a bid until then and will be required to follow the same schedule and process as all other bidders.

Lyon-Galvin said the county won’t know how to craft its bid until GT and Eastman and Smith complete their work.

“We don’t have the framework for what we’re going to expect bidders to accomplish until the consultants conclude their request-for-proposal work,” she said.

The county’s Solid Waste Policy Committee will decide who gets the contract to begin running the facility next year.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.