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March 16, 2014

Recycling in unincorporated areas of Clark County in limbo

Clark County is considering handling duties in-house

JEFFERSONVILLE — Clark County’s financial woes may affect recycling services in unincorporated areas of the county.

The county commissioners voted Thursday to reject bids for recycling service, citing high costs.

“What we had entertained is putting [recycling] out to bid for companies to pick it up ... and all of the bids came back so high that we can’t afford to do it,” said Commissioner Rick Stephenson.

Ecotech LLC and QRS provided recycling services to the county without a contract. Between the beginning of 2013 and present, the county paid Ecotech $67,906 and QRS Recycling $3,776, according to documents provided by the commissioners’ office.

Ecotech bid $312,000 plus fuel surcharges for two years’ worth of services. Gotta Go bid $354,260 for one year, and Glotzbach Hauling and Recycling bid $199,680 for one year.

Commissioner John Perkins explained that the commissioners solicited bids because the Indiana State Board of Accounts had an issue with the county receiving the service without a contract.

The county is weighing its options, which include buying the equipment to handle recycling in-house, charging fees for recycling to residents of the unincorporated areas and eliminating the program entirely.

Currently, residents who receive recycling services from the county do not pay an additional fee for the service. Commissioners President Jack Coffman said the commissioners are “evaluating” charging fees.

“Clarksville, Jeffersonville and some other cities and towns have a recycling fee for basically picking up the recycling,” said Perkins. “In the unincorporated areas of the county, there is no fee charged. So what’s happening is, in effect, people in cities and towns are paying twice [to subsidize].”

Coffman said if the county were to handle recycling service in-house, it would cost between $200,000 and $320,000 to buy the equipment necessary to get started, but said that could be paid off in a five-year period and the county could recoup some of the costs by processing the recycling.

A call to Ecotech President Robert Lee to explain the large difference between what was charged in 2013 and what was bid for the recycling contract was not returned by press time. County Attorney Jake Elder, who also serves as attorney to the Clark County Solid Waste Board, was not returned by press time. A member of the commissioners’ staff said Elder was traveling.

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