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WHAT WE THINK: Recycling must be available to all

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Curbside recycling is a must for Shelby County's residents.

As the process moves forward toward creating countywide curbside garbage and recycling for residents, we want to be sure that all those responsible for making these decisions are reading from the same and appropriate page.

Certainly, we are encouraged and buoyed to learn that the members of Shelby County Fiscal Court and the Shelbyville City Council are being proactive and working together on this issue. A joint effort on a contract only could help both bodies effectively represent their constituents by providing the best possible rate.

Make no mistake, the economics of this process will benefit everyone. Residents will pay less for what should be better service, and taxpayers will save in road repair costs, overhead for facilities they no longer need and in additional fees and costs for transporting their own recyclables and large items. Seldom do we encounter such a win-win situation.

Yet, there appear to be a couple of lingering questions that are being batted back and forth among decision-makers, and we want to be sure the answers are clear and focused:

Should recycling be included in this contract?

Should this be mandatory for all residents?

The answer to both questions is resoundingly and unequivocally yes.

Recycling must be included because it is the moral obligation of our elected leaders to provide services that protect our environment and the purity of our lands and waters. We as citizens have to exercise every possible action going forward to ensure a more wonderful land is left for those who follow us. Recycling at home is as foundational to accomplishing that goal as taking a personal bath is to maintaining control of disease.

Ultimately, the act of recycling will be the option of the resident – no one can police personal judgment – but it is incumbent on leadership to clear all impediments to that process.

The 109 Solid Waste Board has done its best for several years to encourage recycling, but convenience and ease are two ultimate decision-makers about doing this right. That’s what curbside service would provide, and it becomes a significant community enhancement that leaders must require.

The service also must be mandatory because it can’t be successful unless there is full participation.

Some residents would complain about a bill they don’t want – no matter how small – but this is for the good of all, a public necessity, just like roads, schools and safety. Such comments can’t sway decision-making.

To mitigate those however, we return to a suggestion we made earlier: The best way to handle billing is to make the cost of this service part of property taxes paid by the property owner, not necessarily the resident. That’s much cleaner, simpler, jurisdictionally neutral and consistent with other similar fees.

We also hope – and encourage – that the 109 Board would be able to reduce its 3.5-cent-per-$100 tax rate and allow that savings to be adopted by local governments as payment toward curbside service. For some, that might not cover all the cost, but it would be of significant assistance.

We see no need for monthly billing processes or separate statements or any interim situation, no matter how evil a “tax adjustment” may sound in this day and age. This simply is the way we have seen such service best handled.

We remain ever optimistic about success in these plans and can’t wait to see the actual ordinances to address them.

And, if in our discussions among council members and magistrates we can keep our eyes on these small issues, this can be such a great victory for all.

Better service, better environment, lower overall costs. Can there be anything better?

Let’s do it right.