Curbside recycling funds cut as Council hunts for savings


POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oahu communities that have waited years for curbside recycling might have to wait even longer now that the City Council's Budget Committee has cut $6 million in funding for the roll-out scheduled to begin next May.




Recycling plans on hold


        Under the City Council's budget plan, curbside recycling will not be extended to these communities:

» Makakilo to Waikele


» Waipahu


» Ewa Beach to West Loch


» Honokai Hale to Makua


Source: City Council


The cut was among the more notable as the committee took up various measures yesterday, trying to make up a $50 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year.

The proposal still faces a final vote before the full Council.

Budget Chairman Nestor Garcia said he wanted to use the $6 million to help homeowners who are facing increases in real property taxes. “;We are trying to cut back on city operating expenses in order to try to give some relief to property taxpayers,”; Garcia said, noting that his Makakilo-to-Mililani Mauka district includes some of the affected communities.

Garcia's move to defer funding was supported by committee members Gary Okino and Rod Tam. It was opposed by Councilmen Duke Bainum and Charles Djou.

Putting off curbside recycling sends the wrong message to constituents, Djou and Bainum argued, as the Council tries to encourage recycling and find solutions to solid waste.

“;Recycling and reducing the flow into the system is one of the key elements to decreasing our dependence on either landfills or our shipping (trash) to the mainland,”; Bainum said. “;It's something that the environment begs for.”;

Tim Steinberger, director of environmental services, said the city would be unable to roll out the service as planned next year from Waipahu through the Leeward Coast to Makua.

“;There's going to continue to be a dependence on that landfill because we are not going to be diverting flow through recycling,”; Steinberger said.

Djou said the deferment amounted to killing the program, because the economy is unlikely to recover next year to the point where $6 million would be available.

“;Next year's budget is going to be even more difficult,”; Djou said. “;It's tantamount to putting curbside recycling if not in the grave, certainly on the deathbed.”;

Tam argued that government should continue to promote recycling, even if it cannot provide the curbside service.

“;We need to encourage people to recycle on their own, rather than the government to do the service for them and babying them,”; Tam said. “;We encourage them, but we cannot cater to them at this time because of the budget restraints.”;