The response to last week's survey concerning recycling issues in Montgomery County was gratifying in terms of numbers (99 voted–44 snail mail, 34 e-mail, 11 facebook, eight left at the paper, one handed to me (before a city council meeting), and one phone call). In terms of coverage, almost every corner of the county had a response. I am grateful because it means many people care; I have all of them (except the phone call) stored at my residence in case anyone doubts my counting ability.
I didn't ask for phone calls because I couldn't record them, but I accepted the one I received because the person who called didn't see the paper until Friday but wanted her voice heard. I set the deadline for Friday because most people respond either quickly or they don't respond at all to surveys. If I receive any forms this week, I'll still read them and note the results, but I couldn't put any late submissions in today's paper because of timing.
I also realize the survey wasn't scientific. I make no claim to be a market researcher; I do claim to be honest.
With that said, an overwhelming majority of those who responded feel recycling should continue. Many said they had no idea of how to best support the system, but many valid points were made. I'll include as many as column space will allow. I'll also answer a few questions that were asked. The final count was 93 checks to continue, two definite No checks, three continue if... responses, and one that had a comment but no indication of continuing or abandoning the process.
One of the questions involved the money the county collects as the host for the landfill; as the facebook entry correctly said, the fund was used to start recycling in the county. It was then called the Tipping fee. Mike Plunkett, who has as good a grasp of county matters as anyone I know–his years as a board member and then as board chair gave him the type of institutional knowledge that only those experiences can provide–said that was the purpose and state law when the fee was established, and the state set the parameters, but the fee was later negotiated by the county and the landfill owners. At that point it became a General Fund revenue.
It's a moot point presently, anyway, because it doesn't generate that much income. When both Sangamon and Bond Counties were hauling trash to the Litchfield landfill, the take was $172,000; now that they use other landfills closer to their base, the estimate for 2020 (we're almost there) is $45,000.
Several respondents asked why the Hillsboro center was chosen to remain open. That answer is simple; that's where the baler is, and it's not movable. It's also near the center of the county geographically.
Another question asked where the receipts for the sold product have gone. That's easy too–back into the program, to pay for labor, baler parts, truck repairs, and gas, among other things.
Many of the supportive statements mentioned our responsibility to future generations, the "Preserve the earth for our descendants" school of thought. A city official likened it to towns supporting swimming pools even though they are revenue eaters, not revenue makers. A retired judge pointed out that "critical government services can't be expected to be profitable."
Several asked about having volunteers haul the material from drop sheds to the baler; one "East Fork sharecropper" suggested calling the Federal prison in Greenville to see how their operation is staying afloat. Another suggested putting donation boxes at the drop sheds (he didn't say who would guard the boxes from privateers). A city official at the mayor's meeting last Wednesday said his town would need a box truck to deliver, but he acknowledged his town does have a demand.
Many comments dealt with fearing higher garbage prices because of higher volume if recycling isn't available; they would rather pay for recycling. An accountant who recycles in Litchfield wrote, "It's the responsibility of community leaders to have the foresight...to improve our community for future generations, to force us to be better people, even when some of the citizens disagree."
The naysayers were specific: "No new taxes" and "...it is a waste of time and money."
Rest assured, the board will know of your opinions as we work towards the best possible solution for the majority of the people we represent.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and for sending them to us.