Beginning next month, Lincolnton solid-waste personnel will assume responsibility for picking up the city’s recyclables, a service previously contracted out to GDS for $150,000 annually.
The Lincolnton City Council, which first discussed the change last spring, was updated on the issue during its meeting Thursday night.
The move will take effect the first of February, though City Manager Jeff Emory stressed that Lincolnton residents should expect no change to their curbside pickup, in terms of collection schedules or containers, for the time being.
The city-run residential recycling program, he added, should eventually result in “significant savings,” after an initial purchase of 95-gallon roll-out bins in the next fiscal year. While that may cost the city more than $200,000, officials hope to apply for a matching grant that could help them break even within a year and a half.
Once the new, larger containers are in use, which could be more than a year out, the city will begin collecting recyclables every other week, as opposed to the current weekly schedule.
Recyclables will be taken to a SONOCO transfer station in Gastonia, and then transported to a material-recovery facility in Charlotte.
Public Works and Utilities Director Steve Peeler said it was “hard to nail a figure down” in terms of the exact cost savings — with things like additional fuel costs and truck maintenance expenditures difficult to predict — but he assured the council there would be some.
Council member Devin Rhyne asked whether the program could eventually expand to include pickup for local businesses, but it appears that won’t likely happen anytime soon.
“We’re in uncharted territory,” said Rob Buff, assistant director of Public Works and Utilities. He noted that possibilities for the future could be explored after city crews get the residential pickup under their belts.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, council members conducted a closed-session discussion, after which they took action to extend Emory’s contract.
Council member Larry Mac Hovis made the motion to extend the contract for three more years, which passed 3-1. Rhyne cast the dissenting vote.
Emory’s contract, which was set to expire in December of 2013, is now good through the end of December 2016.
In other City Council action: