Council considers recycling future, continues budget cut hunt

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AUBURN — Councilors voted Tuesday to end the city’s curbside recycling program, and will meet next Tuesday to discuss its replacement.

Options include curbside recycling collections twice a month instead of weekly, or the city could hire a contractor to collect recyclables, or it could create a series of stations around the city where residents could take their recyclables.

No matter what councilors decide, it will be stop-gap measure that will be replaced in July 2011, City Manager Glenn Aho said.

“We just need something to get us through this year while we work out what our final program will look like,” Aho said.

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Councilors decided last week to end the current curbside program. While a majority of councilors supported the decision, it came informally at a workshop budget discussion. Mayor Dick Gleason said the issue deserved a formal vote.

The city operates a recycling program, with two city trucks collecting and sorting recyclable materials left curbside by residents. An older truck is parked at the Mid-Maine Waste Action Corp. incinerator on Goldthwaite Road.

Aho said the city’s current program is broken, and the city needs to hire more staff and replace trucks.

The city’s solid waste collection contract with Pine Tree Waste expires in June 2011, and Aho hoped to develop a new program that would combine modern recycling methods with regular trash collections.

Last week, Aho asked councilors to consider hiring a contractor to collect the recycling and haul it away while the new program was developed. He estimated the program would cost the city $210,000. Instead, councilors opted to cancel the program and have the city park its trucks.

Councilors said they received plenty of comments after their decision last week.

“It’s time we find a better solution,” Councilor Dan Herrick said.

Aho also unveiled a plan to trim $1.2 million from the budget Tuesday, surpassing a council directive last week to trim $1 million from his draft 2010-11 budget. He unveiled $848,000 worth of cuts last week that included less snow plowing, no lifeguard at the Lake Auburn outlet beach and a single polling place for voters

The city’s share of support for the Fourth of July fireworks would be cut under Tuesday’s proposal. Aho said he also considered furlough days, closing Auburn Hall one day each month, but instead opted to close offices two hours early every Friday.

“It’s been my experience that salaried people continue to come in, even though the office is closed,” Aho said.  “We can’t have that.”

Closing early on Fridays would save the city $224, 576, he said.

Aho’s budget also does away with school resource officers, absorbing them back into the regular police patrol to cover sick time and overtime. It would save an estimated $25,000.

Cynthia Brown of 155 Nottingham Road urged councilors not to pull the officers out of schools.

“It’s not just for the safety of my children, but for the other children that are really helped by that program,” she said.

Councilors will continue budget discussions at a special April 20 meeting.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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