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WHAT WE THINK: Shelbyville City Council is making the wrong move

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To place a fee on recycling in new curbside trash plan is narrow-minded and wrong.

This newspaper is supposed to be paying attention to the best interests of the community, but we feel rather stupid right now, as if we didn’t see what we should have, as if we have let you down.

Because we feel very much blindsided by the Shelbyville City Council.

For months we have been reverberating our praises about the city council because its members  were working toward adopting a curbside garbage and recycling ordinance for its residents, providing a negotiated service that serves the best interests of the residents and the future of the city and Shelby County in general.

We have held up these six men and one woman – we include Mayor Tom Hardesty in our count – as paragons for creating a legacy for their terms on the council. We derided the timidity of the Shelby County Fiscal Court by comparison.

But now we know we have been had and that you likely soon will be had, too.

The council on Thursday night quietly allowed that its planned ordinance does offer recycling – for an additional fee.

That sound you heard was our stunned jaws hitting the floor in surprise. Even council member Mike Zoeller was surprised to hear this development. And he was on the committee that drafted the ordinance.

But this is the council’s apparent course despite the fact that trash companies’ executives have said to include recycling would lower the cost even further, this despite the fact that our community needs recycling for all as a way to preserve our environment.

We can’t imagine why anyone on the council even would consider doing otherwise. Recycling is our future. It will save our environment, ultimately lower costs and improve the quality of life and reputation of our county. Property values – and city taxes – would rise because of its positive impact.

Apparently, though, these six men and one woman have decided to sidestep all of that for some reason we don’t quite grasp. They are marginalizing what they should be encouraging, nee requiring when it comes to industry.

We have heard people mention “freedom of choice” for this process.

This is not about choice but, rather, about responsibility. It’s about doing what is right for the city and at least offering your residents the opportunity to do right as well. There is no choice. There’s only one way to do the right thing.

We can compromise in allowing a single-franchise, opt-out program, but we can’t compromise on recycling.

Providing recycling with a fee is not an “opportunity.” Why is this so difficult? Thousands of communities across America provide trash pickup and recycling, many doing so for decades.

This sort of decision is one of those embarrassing examples why Kentucky showed up again this week as No. 49 on the list of worst places to live, outranked only by West Virginia.

To recycle is a moral obligation for each of us. In fact, there should be more rewards for those who recycle with consistency, just as there are for those who buy fuel-efficient vehicles or appliances or make ethanol on their farms.

The Shelbyville City Council should be ashamed for thinking otherwise. Whoever suggested this aspect of the ordinance is not thinking of the future.

Surely its members realize that there would be few takers for this optional system, that they would not be doing as well as they could for the residents. They appear to prefer not to encourage recycling but rather simply to offer a new way to pay more to have it.

Come on, council members. It’s not too late before your garbage plan is trash.

You can do the right thing. You can add recycling, lower the costs and be heroes for future generations.

Don’t you want to be seen as doing better than everyone else who ever has sat in your seats? Don’t you want to see something in the rearview mirror that you have done well?

This isn’t about a zone change or enhancing the ability of an industry to open or expand in an industrial park.

This is about leaving your children and grandchildren a better county and a better city.

You can clean up a big piece of our county with one correct vote.

Or you can fail in capital, bold-faced letters.

Because a vote for this ordinance without including recycling at a singe rate is pure garbage.