City, non-profit toss around trash changes

Published Jul 12, 2018 at 12:00pm

The Common Council held a work session with officials from Rome Clean and Green Wednesday to hear about recent efforts and plans for the coming year, including the group’s funding request and plans to potentially revamp the city code’s waste removal section.

The non-profit is under contract with the city for its 2017-2018 fiscal year for $55,000. The group works on projects related to recycling, litter and beautification. The group is seeking $67,500 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, with increases to cover information mailings and an intern.

Clean and Green has been evolving its programs, including turning the Great American Cleanup from a one-day weekend effort to multiple smaller projects spread out to allow more people to participate and cover more ground while reducing the amount of help needed from the city’s Department of Public Works. It has also added several community events such as the Good Clean Fun Mud Run in May, Wine and Art CHAIR-ity Dinner and Auction in November and Bikes in Bloom.

The group’s first series of mailings was completed and sent to 13,406 customers. The next is set for August, then October and then December.

The group and city are also working to revamp the waste removal section of the city code.

The possible transition to a “pay as you throw” system that would charge customers based on how much they throw in regular garbage containers, is on hold until the code is updated.

It has added educational programs too. It has updated relevant parts of the city’s website, established a litter hotline at 315-796-ROME and increased its media and social media efforts. It has a presence at the weekly downtown market outside City Hall and works with Jervis Public Library.

It monitors historical data for recycling and solid waste disposal rates. Improving recycling efficiency is a way for municipalities to save money in addition to the environmental benefits. It costs more to process regular trash than recyclables.

Rome switched to one-stream recycling and to large trash and recycling bins in recent years, and the rate has been improving, but slowly. Rome’s rate has been steadily improving since 2010, besides one drop off from 2015 to 2016. The rate in the city has climbed from 16.58 percent in 2010 to 17.13 percent in 2011 then to 17.66 percent. It continued up to 18.52 percent in 2013 then to 19.97 percent before peaking at 22.47 percent in 2015. It dropped to 21.24 percent then climbed slightly again to 21.73 percent last year.

The group’s increased request for the upcoming fiscal year includes increases for mailings ($7,500) and an intern ($5,000), which Executive Director Tanya Davis explained during the work session. The group has been using 2016-2017 funds for both, and while there is still money for both from that contract, neither will stretch to the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year.