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Legislation to approve a proposal for continued recycling in North Little Rock was almost trashed Monday evening until Mayor Joe Smith broke a tie to pass it.

The legislation before the North Little Rock City Council was to approve Waste Management's offer to continue residential curbside recycling pick up through March 31, 2021, under a new contract to be effective next Monday.

The proposal also excludes the recycling of glass and plastic bags. Higher fees paid by households will begin April 1.

Council members unanimously approved an amendment by council member Debi Ross that requires the actual contract to come back before the city council for approval after finalization of contract terms by all parties.

"We're not voting on the actual contract tonight," Ross said. "I want to see the actual contract."

When the roll call vote began on the amended legislation, council members Ross, Beth White and Maurice Taylor all voted no, causing Smith to stop the vote to clarify what vote was taking place.

"This is with your amendment and you voted no?" Smith asked Ross. He then asked White and Taylor to confirm their votes.

Each answered they were voting no on the amended proposal. Council member Linda Robinson also voted no. The final four votes from council members Steve Baxter, Ron Harris, Charlie Hight and Murry Witcher evened the vote at 4-4. Smith then voted yes to pass the proposal. The mayor only votes to break a tie in order to approve legislation.

Smith had said at the last council meeting two weeks ago that he was "leaning toward ending" the contract with Waste Management. However, on Monday, he said that even with a rate of about 33 percent of materials collected in North Little Rock being deemed contaminated, "the other 67 percent is being recycled." Also, even at an increased charge, Waste Management is less expensive than viable alternatives, he said.

"Waste Management is by far lower than anything I've seen," Smith said.

Under the contract proposal, North Little Rock residents -- as well as those in Little Rock and Sherwood -- would have their cost for curbside recycling collection increase from $3.99 monthly per household to $4.14 monthly starting April 1 through March 31, 2020. The cost would then go up to $4.29 through March 31, 2021.

Before the new fee takes effect in April, the Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District is to pay the difference to Waste Management between the current $2.99 per household charge and a new $3.99 fee per household beginning Monday, or about $550,000 total.

Neither Little Rock nor Sherwood have yet acted on the recycling proposal.

The contract proposal also includes Waste Management paying the solid waste district $150,000 in education funds to better instruct residents about what can and cannot be recycled, hoping to lessen the amount of contaminated materials placed in bins. The payments would be up to $5,000 monthly for 30 months.

"This will help with our three problem neighborhoods," Smith said of areas where most of the contamination of materials occur.

Metro on 09/25/2018

Print Headline: NLR mayor breaks tie to pass recycling contract

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