Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Overview of the PA 138 Campaign (Failed) Part Two

The recycling campaign has begun moving again, in a different direction.

This past Monday, October 29, the Solid Waste and Recycling Council met. Two important things happened. First, the commission determined once and for all that PA 138 was no longer a workable option to bring recycling to Antrim County (more information on that below). Second, the group voted to ask the County Commission to add a recycling millage to the ballot in November of 2008.

The County Commissioners need to approve that request, and will very likely make that decision at their next meeting. That meeting is on Thursday, October 8th at 9:00 am, on the second floor of the County Building in Bellaire.

This means two things. First: we need a strong public presence at the County Commissioners meeting. The only way to keep our representatives from passing the buck on this is to stand up at the meeting and tell them that you support ACTION on recycling. I regret that I have long-standing plans to be out of state next week. Please take an hour to attend and speak up in support of recycling.

Second, and most importantly: a millage proposal is without doubt a controversial and risky plan, particularly given the climate of the economy and the vocal anti-tax folks in the county. If the council agrees to put this on the ballot, we will need to run a campaign to make sure it passes. We'll be coming to you asking for contributions of time, money and resources. We'll need to educate the public about the problem with recycling in Acme and Charlevoix, fight off misinformation about the costs of recycling and otherwise convince a broad spectrum of our community to support this wise and worthwhile plan!

In other news, I'm sad to say that Raelene, while still a part of the press for recycling, has had to resign from the Solid Waste and Recycling Council to make time for her great new job. Her voice is very much missed at the council, and she will continue to be as active as she can in the process. Joe Meyers, the Associate Planner and another strong voice for the program, has also stepped back slightly to make room for the avalanche of other County business he needs to deal with every day. This means that we'll also be looking for additional leadership on this campaign - Raelene, Joe and I can't run the whole process ourselves, but we are definitely willing to be part of a broader group of hardworking recycling advocates!

As for PA 138, the council determined that in too many cases township commissioners were unwilling to take a leadership role in bringing recycling to their community. While there's no doubt that there was strong support for recycling in these communities, there simply wasn't the political clout to overcome the fear that many of these folks had in levying any additional fees or taxes on residents in their district.

The good news is that there IS strong support for recycling in the county, as efforts in Mancelona, Elk Rapids and Bellaire have proven. If we run a strong and smart campaign, we can win! We may be just a year away from a recycling program in Antrim County.

Thank you for your support of recycling in Antrim County! Let's make this effort pay off!


Brad Kik
Recycling Committee
Solid Waste & Recycling Council


In response to a few questions: first, we don't know what time the recycling issue will be on the agenda. We're pushing to make it as early as possible. Public comment is very early on the schedule, so even if you can't stay, you can show up, speak your voice and slip out when you need to. Second, we don't know exactly what this plan is going to look like, except that it will be similar to the plan proposed with PA 138: twenty-four hour drop off bins in multiple locations throughout the county, and a cost of around $20/household (though a millage will change the actual cost/per value of the household).

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