Mayor Chris Beutler said the action taken Monday by four City Council members to remove key portions of the RecycleLincoln proposal was "disappointing, short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible." An amendment from Council member Trent Fellers removed the required diversion of cardboard and other paper products from the ordinance. The amended ordinance passed 4 to 3, with Fellers, Jon Camp, Cyndi Lamm and Roy Christensen voting in favor. The Mayor said the amendment effectively nullifies plans to significantly increase Lincoln's recycling rate.
The amended ordinance retains about $500,000 for public education. But the City will have to return $339,000 in State grants that were dependent on the passage of the cardboard and paper fiber diversion. Those grants would have provided $225,000 in additional money for education and $114,000 for additional containers at the City's free drop-off sites.
"The facts are clear - Lincoln's recycling rate is embarrassingly low, and solid research tells us that public education alone will raise the rate only 1 to 3 percent," Mayor Beutler said. "With Feller's amendment, not only is the $500,000 intended for education essentially wasted, but the City also loses several hundred thousand dollars in State grants. And let's not forget that when we recycle less, we're putting more into the landfill, and new landfill space has a big price tag."
The Mayor thanked Council members Leirion Gaylor Baird, Jane Raybould and Carl Eskridge for listening to all those who signed the RecycleLincoln petition and who attended the public hearing on the ordinance July 25.
The Mayor has until the close of business Tuesday, August 9 to either sign or veto the ordinance. He said he would talk to supporters over the next few days before deciding which action he will take.