recycling center - closed

A man walks in front of the Recycling Center, which closed on Sept. 10.

The Taos County Board of Commissioners kicked the metaphorical can down the road Tuesday (Oct. 19) after postponing a decision on a resolution to establish a recycling fee for county residents to re-open the Taos Recycling Center on Bertha Street.

County Chairwoman and District 5 Commissioner Candyce O’Donnell presented the resolution, which would charge county residents $1.75 per month ($21 per year).

The county and town seem to be in disagreement over reopening the center, which was closed Sept. 10 after the Taos Landfill Board (who controls the center’s operations) broke a 3-3 tie vote on whether or not surrounding municipalities would continue to support its operations.

Town Manager Rick Bellis has said the community’s low diversion rate (the amount of trash diverted from a center and actually recycled) of 7.6 percent, only 2.6 percent of which comes from individuals, does not  justify keeping the center open.

Meanwhile O’Donnell and other members of the local government have argued that Taos must have a recycling center, regardless the low diversion rate. Referencing the low rate, town Councilman Pascual Maestas said the government should “not let perfect be the enemy of good.”

“The public needs to do their part in participatory action to recycle more and recycle correctly,” he said, adding that he hopes to see both governmental bodies vote to support the resolution. “If we do not take action today, let's bring this up at the next joint meeting. There is room for us to find common ground.”

Several members of the public joined the meeting to express their support for the center. Beth Levine said there are a lot of people who “really are upset the recycling center was closed.” She said she felt a small fee wasn’t unreasonable, but said she wished the center would look at taking “as many items as they can.”

Resident Harold Perl said he would “urge vociferously the instruction for preparing the materials be very clearly stated and very clearly distributed,” as contamination is often a reason recyclable materials make their way into landfills.

Bellis said the town “certainly welcomes a proposal,” but it remains to be seen if the town council would vote to run the center; the resolution would see the town again take over day-to-day operations of the center while gap funding would help finance it.

Since closing in September the facility has been shut down and “staff reassigned,” said Bellis. “If the county is so concerned, the county should move forward,” he said.

“It economically does not make sense,” he said, closing out his comments.

District 3 Commissioner and Vice-chair Darlene Vigil suggested the resolution be postponed until the county can find a recycling solution that addresses the concerns Bellis and others have raised.

District 2 Commissioner Mark Gallegos said, “I know time is of the essence but we gotta get it right.”

“It seems like everyone on the government side, town and county, wants to see some kind of recycling happening, and the public is certainly asking for it,” said District 4 Commissioner AnJanette Brush. “They just want to see us get this done.”

The county and town management decided to get together to hash out details before coming back to the commission Nov. 9, when another vote will be taken to see if the county supports the resolution to reopen the center.

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