AUBURN — Cutting back recycling collections hasn't kept people from recycling, according to city officials.
"We've had a few phone calls critical of reduced convenience," said Bob Belz, Auburn public works director. "But according to the operators on our routes, most people who were recycling still are."
The city went from collecting recycling curbside throughout the city once each week to twice per month in spring as a budget-saving measure. Belz said the change looks to save the city $68,000 in the current budget.
Belz said the city currently collects recycling at about 30 percent of the eligible properties — about 1,860 stops in all.
"We believe that most of our users are continuing," Belz said.
But Belz said the amount of materials recycled is down 15 percent this year compared to the same time in 2009.
"It's just a month's worth of data, so I don't think it should be taken too literally," Belz said. "It's not a significant reduction, especially when you take the down economy into consideration."
The current schedule is expected to be temporary. The city's contract with Pine Tree Waste to collect trash is scheduled to expire in June 2011. Mayor Dick Gleason said the city hopes to settle a new contract by November of this year.
"We need to have that figured out so we can put those numbers into the next year's budget," Gleason said.
Dom Casavant, chairman of a city task force assembled to review solid waste collection and recycling programs, said the group hopes to begin taking bids and proposals from waste haulers and recyclers later in September.
But the group won't settle on a single trash hauling or recycling scheme.
"We plan to take proposals from everyone, from companies that do both to those that focus on one or the other," he said. Casavant said proposals could include offering single-stream recycling — with all paper, glass, metal and plastic recycling all dumped in a single bin — or continuing to offer a system like the current curbside-sort recycling.
"We could even go to a dual-sort, where people put their fiber-based recycling, like paper or cardboard, in one bin and plastic, metal and glass in a second one," he said. "We'll look at other options, too.