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Athens City Council meets atthe Athens Municipal Court on Washington Street , Feb. 26, 2024.

Athens City Council moves forward with COG establishment

Athens City Council met Monday evening to discuss the establishment of the Southeast Ohio Recycling Terminal (SORT) Council of Governments (COG).

The Council discussed the recently completed COG and SORT agreements and their bylaws.

According to a previous Post report, Athens City Council discontinued Athens-Hocking Recycling Center’s contract in November and opted for the Cincinnati-based Rumpke, which caused AHRC financial difficulties.

To maintain its operations, AHRC suggested Athens join the SORT Council of Governments and enter into a contract with AHRC. 

City Council President Sam Crowl presented the agreement for establishing the SORT, noting collaborative efforts stand a better chance of success in addressing common needs.

The agreement designates the Village of Amesville, Ohio, and the Athens Hocking Solid Waste District as the COG’s initial members.

For other entities to join the COG, their governing bodies must pass a resolution or ordinance agreeing to the terms outlined in the agreement and bylaws, and pay a $500 membership fee.

Council member Solveig Spjeldnes, D-1st Ward, noted the thoroughness of the work that went into the agreements but questioned Athens' next steps in joining the COG.

Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District Director Jane Forrest Redfern said the next step is for the company to meet with the Village of Amesville on Thursday to form the COG and submit it to the state.

Redfern said 30 days after submitting, the COG is official. Other governments have to join the COG before receiving services. 

“It’s basically a menu of services that any member would want,” Redfern said. “Logan is considering doing curbside recycling but leaving trash up to whatever hauler people would want.”

Joining the COG could give cities discounts on recycling and composting services, Redfern said. 

Service-Safety Director Andy Stone recommended Athens to join the COG after initial concerns were resolved and Athens’ city lawyers reviewed the agreement.  

Mayor Steve Patterson said the agreement was assessed by an external attorney experienced in COGs. 

Stone said AHRC's assets will be transferred to the COG, which will continue to operate under its current contracts.

Stone said Athens was not among the initial contracts with the COG as the city wanted to ensure the agreement was acceptable for all government entities involved. Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District had a much swifter process for agreeing to join, whereas cities such as Athens, Nelsonville and Logan have specific procedures to follow to join.

Milena Miller, a member of Athens ReThink Plastics, advocated for Athens to join the COG.

Miller said three members went to Athens High School and showed a documentary to students about recycling and the effects of plastic on the environment.

“I believe that the recycling efforts that we make here locally are so important,” Miller said. “We all know the truth about recycling and that is a large portion of these plastic containers never get recycled.”

Redfern said Athens-Hocking Solid Waste District developed a 15-year solid waste management plan, which included financials.

Redfern said as part of the financing plan, a proposed $12 per improved parcel fee was proposed to generate approximately $750,000 to cover district expenses, with over $400,000 allocated to the COG to support recycling efforts.

“It will really set the pace for the COG moving forward,” Redfern said. “It will also give us the opportunity to overtime be able to expand services that the COG and the Solid Waste District want to do moving forward.”

Stone said the council can decide to join the COG before it goes on break in July.


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