The solid waste district for Columbiana, Carroll and Harrison counties has determined $69,000 a year could be saved by providing recycling services itself instead of continuing to contract out for the service. After making that determination, the SWD board agreed last week to give Kimble Recycling & Disposal until May 31 to determine if can match the estimated savings before the board decides to part ways with the company.

Kimble operates and maintains 77 sites in the three counties where the public can drop off recyclable materials, which are then transferred to the company’s $10 million recycling plant in Twinsburg. Forty-four of the drop-off sites are in Columbiana County.

The board has balked at renewing its contract with Kimble for another three years because the company’s proposal called for a 53 percent price hike. Kimble officials defended the rate increase, saying the price for recyclable materials has been declining for the past six years, and the increase is in line with what is going on elsewhere in Ohio.

The contract expires July 31, and the board decided to investigate whether it could provide the state-mandated recycling services itself for less money than Kimble. The findings released at last week’s board meeting showed it would cost the SWD $362,000 to operate the program in 2018 compared to the $571,000 Kimble is prepared to charge. Kimble’s fee for 2017 is $384,000.

The SWD’s figure excludes the $140,000 annual payment on the loan that would likely be obtained to purchase the recycling trucks and dumpsters for the 77 drop-off sites. Adding that to the operating costs would result in a grand total of $502,000 in 2018, only $69,000 less than what Kimble is charging.

Rather than take out a loan to purchase trucks and dumpsters, the SWD could dip into its $3.5 million balance to pay the $793,000 in equipment costs up front, but officials are concerned they would need that money to eventually help subsidize operations.

The SWD analysis did not factor in how much it would make from selling the recyclable materials that are collected, which is what Kimble does. This money would be used to offset operating costs. Scott Walter, vice president of business development for Kimble, told the board that while the company is sympathetic to the SWD’s plight, it had no choice but to raise rates significantly because of current market conditions. He also told the board they need to ask whether it is worth cutting ties with them over $69,000 a year.

“Yes, you can do it for close to what we do it, but is it worth the headaches and hassles for $70,000?” Walter said.

The SWD board consists of county commissioners from each county, and Columbiana County Commissioner Mike Halleck noted $69,000 year is sizable when you multiply it over a period of years. He then asked if Kimble would be willing to take a second look at its contract to determine if $70,000 can be eliminated to bring the proposal in line with what it would cost for the SWD to take over recycling services.

“This would take some work, no question about it, but you can’t walk away for $70,000,” Halleck said.

Keith Cordesman, vice president of solid waste operations for Kimble, agreed to have their numbers people take a second look, saying, “We’ll see what we can do.”

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