Tyrone may dump recycling committee

Borough manager says dropping IRC membership would save $55,000 yearly

TYRONE — The council of governments that oversees recycling in the four Blair County municipalities mandated by the state to provide curbside service may be about to lose a quarter of its membership.

At a meeting Monday, Borough Manager Ardean Latchford obtained a consensus of Borough Council that Tyrone should withdraw from the Intermunicipal Relations Committee, which also includes Altoona, Logan Township and Hollidaysburg.

Latchford recommended discarding the borough’s membership to save the $55,000 annual assessment the IRC has begun to levy on each of the municipalities to cover a shortfall created by reductions and delays in operating grants from the state and debt service for composting equipment.

Tyrone has curbside recycling covered by its single-hauler contract with Burgmeier Hauling, so all it will need to do to fulfill its obligation is to create a compost facility, Latchford said.

He recently received approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection for a composting site at the upper end of Reservoir Park, he said.

The borough will probably need to buy a wood chipper to operate there, he said.

Workers already on the borough payroll would run the facility, and customers would pick up compost by appointment, he said.

Latchford said his loyalty is to the taxpayers of the borough, not those in other municipalities.

“If I can save the residents $55,000 a year, I’m going to do it,” he said.

Solicitor Dan Stants will check the original agreements to determine what needs to happen for Tyrone to withdraw.

IRC Executive Director John Frederick was unhappy to learn by phone Monday evening that Tyrone plans to can its relationship with his organization.

“I’m very disappointed nobody could pick up the phone and ask if we could talk more about this,” Frederick said.

He understands that the $55,000 charge for this year, following a $25,000 charge last year, might be hard to take, after the municipalities paid nothing directly since the IRC’s beginnings around 1990, he said.

But the borough might be underestimating the benefits of continued membership, he suggested.

“I’m not sure they fully appreciate how much responsibility falls on their shoulders,” he said. “It’s much more than likely meets the eye.”

Frederick will let the IRC board decide whether he should try to talk Tyrone’s council out of going through with its plan, he said.

He’s optimistic, however, that Tyrone’s proposed withdrawal won’t lead to further dismemberment of the IRC.

“I think the other municipalities value the approach to doing this together,” he said.

Officials in Tyrone, with 5,000 people, may think it’s unfair the borough pays the same assessment as Altoona, with 46,000 people, or Logan Township, with 12,000, Frederick said.

But the IRC has considered that potential for inequity, and determined it’s largely illusory, because while the group must spend more to service the larger municipalities, those larger municipalities generate a proportionally larger amount of performance grant money — the IRC’s biggest revenue source, he said.

“No matter how you tweaked the formula, the shares came out very close to equal,” he said.

Unfortunately, Tyrone representatives didn’t often take part in discussions about that equity issue, he said.

He’d be happy to show them the research, even now, he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.