The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 8, 2014

Joplin voters reject curbside recycling

Joplin voters on Tuesday rejected a curbside recycling program.

City voters in Jasper and Newton counties cast 3,835 "no" votes and 3,466 "yes" votes on the issue, according to complete but unofficial results.

The initiative proposed a curbside recycling service for Joplin residents through the city's current contracted waste hauler, Republic Services. The service would have accepted office paper, telephone books, newspapers and magazines, cardboard, metal cans and plastic bottles to be recycled.

The service would have added a monthly recycling fee of $3.03 to residents' monthly trash bills. The fee would have been assessed regardless of whether the service was used.

The election was advisory, and the results are not binding on the City Council.

Two Joplin voters, Myles and Sarah Pennington, said after voting at Byers Avenue United Methodist Church that they weren't in favor of the cost of the proposed service.

"I just don't want to spend more money," Myles Pennington said.

Said his wife: "The seniors are on a fixed income, and they can't afford that."

The proposal had the support of the Young Professionals Network of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. In the group's push for voter approval, its members said curbside pickup would make recycling more convenient and accessible for residents. They also said increased recycling efforts would improve the local economy, reduce household waste, conserve existing resources and make the community more appealing to newcomers.

Katrina Richards, a member of the Young Professionals Network, acknowledged on Tuesday night that many voters were likely turned off by the fee.

She said a recycling proposal for Joplin could resurface in the future if the City Council were to solicit bids for the service instead of asking for voter approval. A new contract could lower the usage fee for residents, she said.

"It (Tuesday's vote) is definitely not the end of what we're trying to do," she said.

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