Alderwoman Richelle J. Pasceri tried to convince her Common Council colleagues Tuesday that a full curbside recycling program won't be as expensive as it looks, but she seemed to make little headway.
"I don't really think anybody at this table is against recycling. We're against the $330,000," said Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, D-4th Ward, during a budget work session.
Actually, it would cost $334,563 to start a recycling program under terms of the first year of a three-year bid from Modern Disposal to collect recyclables daily on the city's garbage routes.
Pasceri, R-1st Ward, the city's chief recycling supporter, argued that the city will save some money by landfilling less garbage and by ending the city's own newspaper and cardboard collection program. At present, that's the only curbside recycling Lockport does.
Pasceri also pointed out that the tentative budget calls for spending $450,000 on regular trash disposal, the same as this year, even though the city signed a new contract with Modern that cut the disposal fee from $38 a ton to $30 a ton.
She said that could probably be reduced, and the city also won't have to spend money on a dump truck for newspapers, renting a compactor for the cardboard it picks up or for Dumpsters for city residents who drive their own recyclables to the county landfill to drop them off.
Mayor Michael W. Tucker said of the recycling program, "There is some cost avoidance there. It's not as bad as it looks at first blush."
Pasceri cited a study by county recycling specialist Dawn M. Walczak that showed recycling will be cheaper than the status quo in four years. But City Clerk and Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney pointed out, "The ultimate savings down the road doesn't do anything for the 2010 budget."
Schrader continued to push for a garbage district or at least a "pay-as-you-throw" user fee so all garbage customers, even those exempt from property taxes, have to pay.
But he worried about handling the cost of recycling through normal taxation.
"I have a rich constituent who won't vote for me because I won't do recycling. She can afford it. What about the people in the North End who can't?" asked Schrader, who, like four other aldermen, is a candidate for re-election.
But he said he'd probably vote for recycling if counteracting budget cuts can be found, and if he's assured there would be progress toward a garbage district. "I don't want to get one thing if we don't continue to go forward."
"We've got to get started on recycling," said Alderwoman Flora M. McKenzie, D-3rd Ward. "We've got to find other places in the budget we can cut out."