The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 10, 2013

Our View: Don't trash recycling

The Joplin Globe

— The Citizens Advisory Recovery Team concluded that Joplin residents want curbside recycling. It found strong support for it.

The Young Professionals Network at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce also concluded Joplin residents want curbside recycling. It found that 81 percent of the nearly 800 people it surveyed favored it.

It looks like the Joplin City Council wants it, too, voting 4-3 on Monday and 9-0 last month to put the issue up to a future vote by Joplin residents.

But now curbside recycling appears to be dead, dragged to the street just like the garbage.

Say what?

It appears the margin of one vote Monday night was not enough to advance a curbside recycling plan. Under city charter rules, “any resolution or ordinance of the council requires five ‘yes’ votes to pass as an absolute majority,” Joplin City Attorney Brian Head said. “A simple majority of the quorum is only sufficient for procedural matters. It is not sufficient to pass an ordinance or resolution.”

Two council members who previously voted in favor of the measure, Bill Scearce and Trisha Raney, were absent from Monday’s meeting.

“That particular ordinance is dead for all intents and purposes,” Head said afterward.

We agree with Jane Cage, chairwoman of the advisory team, that the issue needs resurrected.

“I hope that the council members will not let this issue go by the wayside, but will find a way to make this work,” Cage said.

Head’s pronouncement of the death of this particular ordinance may be true, but by no means should curbside recycling be put out with the trash.

Council members voting against the ordinance weren’t voting against curbside recycling; they were voting for their objections to holding an unnecessary and expensive advisory election. Adding curbside recycling will cost residents $3.03 a month. The council makes decisions regularly that affect Joplin residents’ billfolds by far, far more.

There are several ways to move forward, including continued discussion with Joplin’s trash hauler on price, as well as considerations for subsidies for residents for the first year of the program.

The issue is too important to let die. If the council can’t move forward on something this universally supported, then it appears there is little it will be able to accomplish.