A not quite yet convinced Newport City Council Monday night punted the “compostables” issue toward the middle of the month when they may decide to launch a food waste and yard debris compostables pickup program in the city.
Today, most Thompson Sanitary Service customers in Newport routinely separate out their bottles and other recyclables and leave their food waste, and other trash in the regular garbage can. Company officials reminded the Newport City Council Monday night that the food waste and yard clippings could be going to a special composting operation right across Highway 99 from the Coffin Butte Landfill north of Albany. They said food waste and woody debris are much better being recycled through a composting operation than burying it in a landfill.
As in previous meetings on the subject, a number of Newport area residents sat down at the microphone and reminded the council that many Thompson Sanitary customers already compost their own food and yard debris so they don’t need the extra cart to further clutter-up their garages, sideyards or to pay the $6.59 increase in their monthly trash bill.
Councilor Dean Sawyer was joined by a few other councilors who said they know of elderly and disabled residents who are on very meager incomes and so they cannot afford the $6.59 rate increase. Instead, he says, they’re willing to not participate if they’re not charged the extra fee for compostables. In reply, Thompson officials said “We can do that.” But Thompson reminded the council that it takes a lot of community participation to make any program work. So if too many people opt out of the program, it leaves fewer citizens to pay the bill – forcing those remaining in the system to pay more
A couple of city councilors like Ralph Busby and Dean Sawyer levied some rather pointed questions as to Thompsons’ income, it’s sources, and other remarks that drew protests from the Thompson bench said they too were learning about what is done in other communities and how to pursue best practices. They said it is the policy of the city of Newport to enhance recycling which includes compostables and that Thompson is trying to provide that service. During recent city council meetings on the subject, many residents have testified in favor of the compostable program saying they support it because they don’t have the space or the time to compost their food and yard waste themselves. Of course the sentiment is just the opposite for those who are already composting their own and who, under the proposed agreement, would not be required to participate by having the separate compostables cart. They would be issued a smaller cart, and save a small amount on their current trash bill.
In the end City Manager Spencer Nebel was asked by his city council to meet up with them at a workshop to be held at City Hall next week to further hash out options. If a small number of Newport residents decide to opt out of the compostable service, it’s anticipated that it would not affect trash pick-up rates across the board. But it could, if more and more residents opt out. City councilors said they wanted to submit more questions to Nebel so he can report back the answers to them during that March 11th informal workshop that is expected to run between noon and 2pm at City Hall. After that the council could make a decision on compostables pickup as soon as March 17th. If approved, it would not begin operation until later this summer.