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A discussion broke out between City Council members at their last meeting that put into question the existence of David City’s recycling center.

Street Foreman Chris Kroesing attended the meeting on Jan. 23 seeking the council's consideration for a bid to repair a baler at the recycling center. However, several on the council, such as Ward 2 Council Member Kevin Hotovy, tossed around the idea of closing the center. Hotovy said the city loses about $15,000 annually keeping it open.

“I get recycling, I get it,” Hotovy said. “It’s a service we provide, but at what cost?”

The David City Recycling Center, 174 E St., is open on from 1-3 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The center serves as a drop-off point for cardboard, newspaper, magazines and plastics to be collected and then shipped to First Star Recycling in Omaha. The baler is a machine used by the center to crush and compact collected cardboard. While currently operational, Kroesing said it's in need of repair. A bid to fix it came from Riekes Equipment of Lincoln at the price of $2,234.

Kroesing told the council the prices of recycled materials have been dropping. He said the city now only gets $20 per ton for its cardboard from First Star.

“Prices keep going down on everything we take in here, the plastics and the cardboard and stuff like that,” Kroesing said. “It seems like the last five years or so it’s just been going down every year.”

Ward 1 Council Member Tom Kobus said providing recycling simply isn't worth the cost, adding there are no legal benefits or repercussions if the city were to close the center.

“It ’s not worth starting the baler up,” Kobus said in regard to the price drop. “The trouble is that there are no laws and no benefit from the law right now.”

Hotovy said he has questioned having the service for the past five years, and Ward 2 Council Member Pat Meysenburg agreed, asking, “Why even have it?”

Ward 1 Council Member Skip Trowbridge asked Kroesing if there was anything at the recycling center the city could sell if it were to close. If the center was shuttered, Trowbridge said Waste Connections, the company that owns the Butler County Landfill, could potentially facilitate curbside recycling pickup in David City.

“Maybe sometime it’s time to pull the plug,” Trowbridge said. “If we want recycling, then we’ll talk to the people that drive those great big packer trucks up to our driveways. They will do it.”

The council unanimously voted to table the consideration for the bid to repair the cardboard baler for another time. Kroesing said to The Banner-Press that if the machine is not eventually repaired, the recycling center will no longer be able to accept cardboard.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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