The Athens City Council introduced an ordinance Monday that would extend the city’s current refuse and recycling contract with the Athens Hocking Recycling Center for an additional year.
The legislation was introduced after Athens’ service safety director, Andy Stone, recommended that the council reject all three of the bids for the city’s residential and commercial refuse and recycling contract, according to a previous Post report.
The city’s current contract with the Athens Hocking Recycling Center, or AHRC, will expire July 1. Passing the proposed ordinance would allow Stone to renegotiate a one year extension to AHRC’s current contract. After the negotiation, the city would open bids for a future contract for refuse and recycling needs.
The one year contract extension would come at an increased cost to the city. The extension would cost the city an additional $78,000, totaling the contract to $1,420,000.
Athens resident Judy Roman asked if the contract increase would mean that the trash pickup rate also increases. Rates are expected to increase, but the amount is not yet determined.
“I just want to say that you spend an awful lot of money,” Roman said.
Bruce Underwood, executive director of AHRC, said the contract price does not include the costs of the composting pilot program. That program receives separate funding because it is a pilot.
“Not that much of an increase for that year over, but again, that does not include the compost,” Underwood said. “Hopefully that goes forward, even in its pilot stage, or as a city service.”
The Council also passed a resolution urging multiple Ohio representatives, including Jay Edwards and Gov. Mike DeWine, to support restoring the local government fund.
The Council will ask DeWine to restore the local government fund to its pre-recession levels.
Athens previously received a grant for being a college town. It also receives state funding. The city no longer receives the college town grant, and state funding has been cut. Funding used to be $812,000 a year from the state, but in 2018, Athens received $375,000. That money is important to the general fund, which helps fund city services such as police and fire services.
“It’s hard to support those services when we’re losing hundreds of thousands of dollars,” auditor Kathy Hecht said.
Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said the funding is also important because it allows Athens to home rule.The Council passed a resolution affirming their right to home rule in March, according to a previous Post report.
“It’s the race to the bottom, and if we don’t have money for our citizens, it’s even further a race to the bottom,” Fahl said.