Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Town Council hears challenges of recycling operation

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By HEATHER AUGUSTYN

Jim Metros, municipal services manager with Republic Services, presented members of the Chesterton Town Council with what he called a “Readers’ Digest” version of the recycling industry in hopes of securing an extension for his recycling contract with the town. After hearing the presentation, however, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann and council members explained to Metros that they would not be able to allow the extension of the contract, which is due to expire December 31, since the town is bound by state statute.

Metros explained that due to the volatility of the recyclables market and China closing their doors to purchasing recyclables, prices have gone up. “We started losing money on recycling instead of making money on recycling. We are losing $60 a ton for recycling. This is not a Republic Services issue, this is a waste product issue. Recycling has a lot to do with the environmental footprint, but what has changed is what we used to make money on, we are now losing a lot of money,” said Metros.

He said that since recycling costs have increased and profitability decreased, his company is forced to increase fees to municipalities and the public. “When it starts costing, we have to make some adjustments. We are a waste hauling company and we offer recycling as a service to our customers. It’s not where we make our money. We make our money on trash, so we have to make adjustments to make some money because recycling is still a good thing to do,” he said.

Though he realized that the town of Chesterton would likely still need to go out to bid for the recycling contract, he wanted council members to be aware of the predicament. He stated, “Whether you put it out to bid, or you extend with Republic [Services], you will see a difference in the way bids are responded to, so we want you to understand the market and some things that are coming.”

Lukmann explained the procedure for council members moving forward. “It’s October 26thÑwe have to take bids, open them, and vote on them by the end of the year. I understand the problem, and it would be good to get some legislative assistance, but I would like to take three-year bids and vote on year one, one and two years, or all three.” Contracts are typically awarded for three years in order to secure the best rates over that period. The council unanimously voted to advertise bids for the town’s refuse and recycling contract. Council member Jim Ton commented, “As someone who helped to start recycling in this town many years ago, this was not a joyful presentation to hear. We just have to do what we can,” he said.

In other business, Police Chief David Cincoski reported that during the recent National Prescription Drug Take Back Day his department turned over 450 pounds of prescription medication to be properly destroyed and 26 pounds of hypodermic needles. “When we turn these things over for destruction, they are amazed by the town’s response because we have by far the most prescriptions and needles turned in of any jurisdiction in Porter County,” said Cincoski.

Resident Brian Lewandowski appeared before the council to follow up on his request for a waiver of town standards requiring sidewalk construction at the corner of 23rd Street and Dakota Street. Council member Ton said they had received an “unfavorable report from department heads in this regard,” and council member Jennifer Fisher stated, “The town does require sidewalks so we deny the request for the waiver.” As a result, council members unanimously rejected Lewandowski’s request.

Regional businessman John Rogers also appeared before the council and asked for Riverfront District designation for a cigar lounge he plans in the town. Rogers stated he is owner of two cigar lounge locationsÑone in Hobart and one in Michigan City, though he has unsuccessfully attempted to seek alcohol licenses for these establishments. He explained that when he heard about Chesterton’s Riverfront District which provides businesses in the designated region to serve alcohol in accord with legal requirements, he decided to pursue an additional location in Chesterton. The council unanimously approved his request for application.

In final business, the council unanimously agreed to halt accepting applications for the town manager position which will be vacated by Bernie Doyle who is set to retire at the end of the year. The town will accept applications only through the end of business on Wednesday, October 28th since Lukmann reported numerous applications have already been received. Council President Sharon Darnell set executive sessions to interview for the Town Manager position on November 4 to cull the stack with interviews to begin on November 18.

 

 

Posted 10.27.2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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