Monday, December 22, 2008

Trying to sort it out

Apparently, the company line has changed somewhat.

As reported here last week, the recycling markets, like other markets during this economic crisis, have taken a significant hit, thus resulting in Suki Janssen, Athens-Clarke County's waste reduction manager to email me the following ...

For the remainder of FY09 (fiscal year), we will have to use our new initiative money to pay the processing fees. As of November, we still had revenue coming in (just far less). But December until ?? we are projecting we will have to pay.

We are in the process of doing our FY10 budget and have taken this into account when budgeting for next year. This may mean a reduction in non-traditional recycling programs and other programmatic expenses in the future or (the Mayor and Commission) may have to approve an additional transfer of funds to the Recycling Division from the Landfill Enterprise fund or rate increases to residents. All options will be on the table next year.

This prompted Athens-Clarke County District Nine Commissioner Kelly Girtz to offer some more detailed thoughts on how to get through this crunch, including the possibility that some recyclables might have to be warehoused until the markets rebounded, rather than sent on to the landfill.

This morning's article, however, tells a somewhat different story ...

"I don't want anybody to get nervous about what's going on in other parts of the United States," she said. "Here in the Southeast, we're very, very fortunate to be close to most of our end markets." ...

When prices for recyclables were high, the county banked enough money to last for about six months if prices stay low, Jannsen said.

After that, officials will have to dip into money earmarked for starting up new initiatives, she said.

In an earlier discussion with me, Janssen noted several possible options on how to deal with the shortfall in FY 2010 if the markets didn't recover soon enough. These options included using money designated for new initiatives to get through the final six months of FY 2009 and then, for the following year, contemplate anything ranging from rate increases to a reduction in recycling services offered to the community.

If they've been able to stockpile some reserves from when times were good, then that's much welcome news. But, given that many are unsure of how low the market will go, it's important to know all the possible options of how to move forward and continue the successful efforts of Athens-Clarke County to reduce its waste consumption.


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