Featured image: "Don't forget to recycle" by James Wang is is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. –– Tompkins County residents will see a $10 rise in their recycling fees as Casella Waste Management begins a new five-year contract with the county.

The increase –– bringing the annual household fee from $60 to $70 for 2021 –– was approved unanimously by the Tompkins County Legislature at their meeting Tuesday night.

The total proposed 2021 annual fee to be collected, including all recycling pick-up categories (residential, colleges and schools, and businesses), is just over $4.1 million –– money that will be used for single stream recycling and solid waste handling, the operation of residential drop off areas, construction and site improvements at the Tompkins County Recycling and Solid Waste Center and contractor employee living wage requirements.

According to county government, the $10 increase from the annual fee in 2020 is designed to, “help offset a significant increase in costs for contracted recycling services.”

“The industry has changed, increasing costs for recycling and the equipment needed. We’re getting 70% less in the form of revenues, and our operation costs have increased.” Recycling and Materials Management Department Director Barb Eckstrom said.

She continued, “to put it in perspective, even with these increases we can move forward economically. We’re glad that the legislature voted unanimously to increase the annual fee to $70. This measure will ensure that recycling in Tompkins County continues to be financially stable despite a difficult few years for the industry at large.”

Legislator Mike Lane Chair of the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee added, “Tompkins County is making a decision to continue our recycling program the best we can.”

The approved five-year contract with Casella Waste Systems comes just as their 10-year contract with the county expired. Casella Waste Systems was the only contractor to submit a new proposal to work with the county.

And although not voted on in Tuesday’s meeting, cost projections put forward by Barb Eckstrom for the next five-years of waste management look to include increases year-to-year, likely in the amount of $5 annually.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com