MADISON - During the City of Madison's regular session on April 1, one citizen made his concerns known regarding the condition of the streets of Madison and the effectiveness of the city's recycling pick-up service.
AJ (Fess) Parker spoke to the council about his concerns.
"I'm real concerned about recycling," said Parker. "I know we've had issues with it in terms of our city crew being overwhelmed and it isn't a large city crew but it is very inconvenient when every week you put your recycling out and come to find out it wasn't picked up. It isn't good and I'm sure it makes people not want to recycle. There has been many times that when it is left like that when it is left out there and happen to not bring it in then our garbage pick up is on Thursday and it is thrown into the trash truck."
Maintenance Supervisor and Chief of Police Chet Burgess responded.
"The county is losing 80 grand per year with recycling and it is the same with the city," he said. "It is something that costs more money and we don't get anything out of it anyway. It is cheaper to trash it than to pick it up."
Parker countered, "I also know that the county spends $7,000 per month in fees to dump that trash. It is free to take recycling to the county recycling center."
The citizen then suggested that it should be mandatory to recycle and that citizens should be penalized for not participating.
"If we had total participation in the city and if it was mandatory to recycle with over 1,000 subscribers we would get about 30,000 pounds of recycling per month," he said. "That is $600 a month you would save in taking it to the dump."
"It would cost far more than that to pick it up," he said.
Parker stated his concern and respect for the environmental value of recycling.
"We need to be a progressive community even though we have our many fiscal issues," Parker said. "I even see that if people fail to recycle that we put a $1 surcharge on their garbage bill. That is over $1,000 per month to make sure recycling happens. I was on that board when it started and I'd hate to see something progressive go down the tubes."
Councilwoman Carolyn Mullins showed support for recycling.
"I know that if a city is going to have young people, one thing they are for is recycling," she said. "When we first started it everyone was excited and on board and the school did it. I wish we could recycle plastic because it kills me to put plastic in the garbage. I don't know what we'll do if they close the (county) recycling center in July because there will be nowhere to take it, even Charleston is having a problem."
Parker moved on to another concern - street paving within the city of Madison.
"Do we have a plan to re-pave streets or a master plan to try to put money together to fix our streets?"
Mayor Sonny Howell responded to the question first.
"That stuff costs so much and what we are trying to do now is patch these holes," he said. "We have a machine that was given to us, but if you use that you might as well shut the city down."
Parker stated, "What will it look like 10 years from now if there is no plan?"
Howell said, "I'll be dead in 10 years."
Parker responded, "Yes, but our community hopefully won't."
Councilman Buddy Hudson joined the conversation in an attempt to express the city's financial constraints.
"We have a plan of what we want to do but it won't be paving streets," he said. "It will be small jobs as money becomes available. That is our plan because there is no money or grants. The state department isn't giving it to us and we can't charge more taxes like user fees. Patching is our only alternative right now."
The Madison City Council meets on the first Monday of the month at Madison City hall's council chambers.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.