At a Tuesday meeting of the Stephenville City Council’s Environmental Management Committee, council members discussed the possibility of bringing curbside recycling to city residents.

Following a request by the city, IESI representative Greg Brown presented the cost for providing curbside recycling bins and weekly collection.

While committee members agreed recycling is an important step in improving the city’s impact on the environment, brows were raised when Brown said the service would increase residents’ monthly trash collection bills by 50 percent.

The monthly cost increase would be $5.15 - for a rate of $14.69 per month. Residents would continue to have their poly cart collection receptacles emptied twice per week and recyclables, including paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum collected once a week. Brown said in the current market, glass recycling is not an option. 

If the city chooses to sign up for recycling services, all residents will be required to pay the price even if they choose not to go green. Brown said the cost is based on participation from all of the city’s more than 4,600 residential customers.

Mayor Nancy Hunter said while she is a proponent of curbside recycling she was hesitant about implementing such a drastic cost increase when many area residents are already struggling to make ends meet. She asked Brown to explain the reasoning behind the cost.

While the same service would have only meant a $2-$3 hike in previous years, Brown said the more than $5 figure could be attributed to a number of factors, including the fact that Stephenville’s collection rate is “already considerably lower than most cities,” the number of homes that would require daily truck runs to and from the city and the distance to the local recycling facility. The recyclables would be hauled to Evergreen Recycling in Fort Worth.

Brown also explained that in the current market, rebates are not available on recyclable materials.

“If rebates are delivered in the future, they will be returned to the city,” Brown said.

Committee member Don Zelman, eager about the effort, asked how the council could move forward with the project and also asked how the city could determine if residents supported the idea.

City Administrator Mark Kaiser said a survey was conducted in early 2000, and at the time, residents ranked recycling initiatives at the bottom of their priority list.

“The whole country has gone in a much more green direction,” Zelman said, adding that he hoped the city would not allow the past to discourage current efforts.

Zelman said although he realized $5 was a lot, he felt it would be worth the investment.

Committee member Alan Nix asked Brown if residents would be required to separate paper from plastics. Brown said they would not and also said residents would be provided additional bins upon request.

The committee voted to pull the old survey and have city staff help obtain citizen input on the issue so it could be reviewed at a future committee meeting.

“The committee is seeking citizen input on the issue,” Kaiser said Wednesday.