Recycling bins in eight Blair County locations will likely be removed later this month, forcing users to look for alternative disposal options.
"Unless some money fell from heaven, we would not be able to continue the drop-off program to the degree it's being done now," Intermunicipal Relations Committee Executive Director John Frederick said Wednesday.
At least since 1997, the county's Department of Solid Waste and Recycling has offered drop-off recycling bins in several locations. Currently, they're set up in the Martinsburg and Tyrone areas, and in Allegheny, Freedom, Greenfield, Snyder, Taylor and Woodbury townships.
But as of Sept. 30, the county plans to abolish the solid waste department for lack of money and turn over some of its responsibilities to the IRC, Blair County Commissioner Diane Meling told municipal representatives and residents during a meeting at the Logan Township Municipal Building.
The IRC cannot afford to maintain the drop-off bins, based on estimates he secured that ranged from $6,000 to $20,000 per site, based on location and how often materials had to be collected, Frederick said. He suggested that a municipality or a group of municipalities might want to take over management of a drop-off bin site to serve their residents. But that option drew no immediate support.
"You're not giving the townships any incentive to take over the drop-off depots if you're not going to take care of the pick-up," Greenfield Township Supervisor Joe Claar said.
Freedom Township Supervisor Ed Bender said he's not interested in maintaining the drop-off site in his township because it's used by businesses and residents from outside the township.
Frederick also suggested that municipalities might want to consider mandating haulers within their borders to provide residents with curbside recycling. A few Blair County municipalities already do, he said, while the state mandates that service in Altoona, Logan Township, Hollidaysburg and Tyrone.
"I'm not sure how that would affect a trash collection bill," he said.
Meling said the county introduced the drop-off bins as a way to increase the percentage of materials being recycled. At that time, the county was receiving revenue to support the effort from waste tipping fees. But those fees were challenged and found to be illegal. Revenue the county was permitted to retain has since dwindled, she said.
When asked if the county could levy a $5 fee per household to support a recycling program, Meling said that would generate questions as to it legality.
"You'd have to have a piece of legislation saying counties can do it," Frederick said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.