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Athens City Council meets Sept. 18, 2023, at the Athens Municipal Court on Washington Street.

Committees discuss solid waste, tobacco licenses

Athens City Council met in committees Nov. 13 to discuss the solid waste hauling contract and tobacco licensing. 

Service-Safety Director Andrew Stone said Nov. 14, he would award the solid waste bid to Rumpke Waste and Recycling, replacing the current hauler, Athens-Hocking Recycling Center, or AHRC. 

Stone said under the current emergency solid waste contract with AHRC, the city is paying around $175,000 per month, approximately $43,000 more per month than it is bringing in. 

“(Rumpke) will provide the least cost, while still including uniform receptacles that will assist in keeping the community cleaner,” Stone said. 

Stone said while AHRC has provided good service to the city of Athens for years, he does not believe it is appropriate to select a higher-cost solid waste hauler when there is a lower-cost option. 

Stone said the contract with Rumpke will last for three and a half years, with a 60-day opt-out clause.

Stone said he is concerned about the “long-term risk” caused by switching to Rumpke. 

“It may set conditions for Rumpke to establish a monopoly on solid waste collection in the region,” Stone said. “There has already been concern about their purchase of the nearest landfill and its impact on collection and a decrease in the number of haulers in the area.”

Because of the potential monopoly, Stone said he will work with city staff and industry professionals to “explore the feasibility of returning solid waste collection to be a government function.”

Ed Newman, a resident of Athens, said AHRC has been buffering the city of Athens from the monopolization of solid waste hauling since the 1980s. He said the move to sign with Rumpke is a giant disappointment. Newman said like many other monopolies they will raise the price after the initial 3 1/2-year contract is over.

Crissa Cummings, human resources manager at AHRC, said it is going to be a hard transition away from AHRC, and if the city does decide to put solid waste hauling back under government control, it is going to be a hard transition back. 

Cummings said if they transition away from AHRC, the center will have massive layoffs and will not have the same resources in six months.

The committees also discussed a possible ordinance that would require businesses in the city that sell tobacco and nicotine products to get a license. 

Councilmember Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said Athens has the authority to require tobacco retailers in the city to obtain and maintain a tobacco retailer license as a condition of selling tobacco products. 

Grace said the license is a regulatory tool that enables the city to monitor tobacco sales, fund compliance efforts and create effective penalty and suspension structures for repeated violations. 

She said in Ohio, the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to individuals under the age of 21 is prohibited, but there is little action taken to enforce the law. 

Grace said in addition to the suspension or revocation of a license, the ordinance would provide additional fines for violations. 

The first violation is a fine of no less than $500; the second violation within three years is a fine of no less than $750 and a minimum seven-day suspension; the third violation within three years is a $1,000 fine and a 30-day suspension; and the fourth violation within three years is a $1,500 fine and a 3-year suspension, Grace said. 

Grace said the city would also have the option to deny the renewal of a business’ tobacco license permanently. 


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