The $2.50 recycling fee that the City Council and the public was told was being added to the city services bill July 1 to cover the increased cost of recycling, doesn’t exist.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay it.

According to the city manager’s budget, “The recommended budget includes a $2.50 monthly household availability charge for residential recycling.”

The City Council has now twice passed an ordinance establishing a $2.50 monthly fee, but neither time has it been a recycling fee.

The latest ordinance establishing this fee passed by the City Council on Tuesday, July 16 states that it is a “Solid Waste Monthly Fee.” It also states, “A monthly fee of two dollars and fifty cents ($2.50) shall be assessed to all property units eligible for curbside collection…This fee shall be used for the purposes of curbside collection, processing and disposal of refuse, yard waste, bulk waste, and recycling materials….”

So the “recycling fee” is actually a fee paying for all the garbage, trash and recycling collection and disposal services the city provides for its residents.

This came to light because the ordinance establishing this fee as part of the 2019-2020 budget passed in June was improperly worded and needed to be amended.

City Councilmember Sharon Hightower asked a question about the ordinance which was on the Consent Agenda made up of items which are billed as routine housekeeping items that are all passed with one vote.  The policy for the Consent Agenda is that councilmembers are not supposed to ask questions about or discuss the items.  Hightower routinely ignores that policy.

Hightower asked why they were voting on the fees and was told that the Field Operations Department had asked for the amendment but the fees were the same.  It’s good to know that someone is paying attention because the language in the ordinance passed on June 18 states that the fee applies to “all residential households.”  That would mean that people who lived in a multifamily community that did not have garbage, trash or recycling pickup provided by the city would still have to pay the fee for those services.

From a marketing standpoint a recycling fee is a much easier sell than a solid waste disposal fee.  But the sleight of hand can’t be blamed on the City Council because the City Council never discussed a recycling or a solid waste disposal fee before it appeared in the budget.