Lee’s Summit is exploring a cost-sharing arrangement with Kansas City to reopen the north drop-off recycling center on Lee’s Summit Road.
The local recycling centers closed when Lee’s Summit privatized its landfill, and the company taking over solid waste disposal didn’t want to offer recycling.
That ended funding for the drop-off centers, which were subsidized by landfill revenue. The city was operating two centers, one located at the landfill and the other on property of Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport. The Lee’s Summit School District has also restricted use of its recycling containers at its schools, which used to be open to the public.
“We received quite a few calls from Lee’s Summit citizens and business owners asking us to reopen the recycling centers,” said Chris Bussen, solid waste superintendent for Lee’s Summit. On Tuesday he offered a plan to the Public Works Committee for a joint operation of the center near the airport on Lee’s Summit Road.
Bussen said the idea being discussed is for Kansas City to take responsibility for hauling containers away from the site to be unloaded and returned. Kansas City would get the revenue from selling the recyclable material, Bussen said.
Councilman Fred DeMoro asked if there was substantial revenue from the material sales.
In the past the material generated between $8,000 and $9,000 of revenue at the site, Bussen said.
Lee’s Summit would provide a part-time employee to supervise the site.
The Ripple Glass company is willing to put one if its containers on the site, to allow for glass recycling, Bussen said.
The site is near to Kansas City homes and Lee’s Summit residents, so it could be beneficial to both cities, Bussen said.
The site would be open three days a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, as it was previously. There would be no cost to users.
The operation cost to Lee’s Summit would be about $30,000 a year, Bussen said. Lee’s Summit is also responsible for providing the roll-off containers, but found a local hauler willing to let the city use them for no cost.
Bussen said having a person on site to help educate people on recycling, mow, and keep it clean was important. “It’s a little secluded, giving people an opportunity to bring material that shouldn’t be there,” he said.
The city could recover about $13,800 it had repaid to the Mid-America Regional Council that had provided grant money for originally opening the recycling center. The grant had a stipulation the city would keep the center open at least 10 years.
Diane Seif asked what would be the cost if Lee’s Summit paid for the center alone. Bussen said it would be about $120,000 annually. Lee’s Summit would have to contract with a company for about $50,000 to haul away the full containers of material and return them, Bussen said. But Kansas City does that itself and has advantages of scale to make its recycling program more efficient.
The city could recover about $13,885 it had repaid to the Mid-America Regional Council that had provided grant money for originally opening the recycling center. The grant had a stipulation the city would keep the center open at least 10 years.
That money could be applied to a one-time cost of $32,142 for reopening that includes complelting a tall security fence to fully enclose the recycling center for preventing wildlife like deer from running out onto airport runways, Bussen said.
The committee directed city administration to go ahead with finalizing the proposed contract with Kansas City, with the plan to then also be reviewed by the Finance and Budget Committee then voted on by the full council.
Bussen said the city still gets several calls a week asking about a recycling. “Unfortunately, we’re the largest city in the metropolitan area, except Independence, without a drop-off recycling center.”
The city does require trash haulers to provide curbside recycling as an option for residents, but the haulers are allowed to charge for that service. Councilwoman Diane Seif said many residents are on a fixed income and would like to recycle, but can’t afford that additional cost of pay haulers.