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Members of the Athens City Council discuss an ordinance during a meeting on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. (FILE)

City Council: Resolution passed in response to single-use plastic products bill

Athens City Council adopted a resolution Monday that would assert the city’s opposition to a bill that would prohibit the taxation on single-use plastics and its encroachment onto Athens’ ability to home rule.

House Bill 242, which was introduced in May, would prohibit local governments from imposing taxes or fees on single-use plastic products. 

The council wrote a resolution that states Athens’ opposition to the bill. The resolution formally urges the Ohio government to look at the harmful effects single-use plastic has on the environment. It will be sent to state representatives, including Jay Edwards.

“That should be something that we have the choice to decide for ourselves,” Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said. “The state legislature is trying to take that, along with many other home rule choices, away from local communities, so we’ve got to speak up about it.” 

This resolution is one of multiple resolutions that City Council has adopted and sent to Ohio representatives recently. Earlier in June, Athens City Council passed and sent a resolution urging for the state’s local government fund to be restored, according to a previous Post report

The future of Athens’ compost program was also discussed.

The compost program was a pilot that lasted six months. The program was then extended for another six months. Due to the city’s failed bidding process for a new refuse and recycling contract, the future of the compost program now has time to be explored, according to a previous Post report

Andrea Reany, program manager of the Zero Waste Program at Rural Action, presented Rural Action’s recommendation for the future of the program. 

Athens’ fees for recycling and garbage haven’t been changed since 2010. If the city were to readjust its charges, it could include composting in those fees, Reany said.

Rural Action released a survey to the 300 households that participated in the pilot program. Reany said that there was about a 34 percent response rate. Of those who responded, most said that they would be willing to pay about $20 to $30 for composting services.

Reany also recommended that the city provide composting as an opt-out service rather than opt-in, as data shows that opt-out services tend to have higher levels of engagement.

The city is interested in continuing the program, but the fees and program are in question.

“I do know the mayor has been very supportive, as has the city administration as a whole,” President Chris Knisely said. 

The council also adopted an ordinance that obviated the bidding process for the new refuse and recycling contract, declaring a real and present emergency. As a result, the city will extend its current contract with the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center, or AHRC, according to a previous Post report.

Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said citizen involvement on that ordinance had been “awesome” and commends the city for passing legislation.

“I think that it’s a really important thing to go forward with,” Fahl said.


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