By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
If the Joplin City Council goes ahead with a special election in August asking voters whether curbside recycling should be implemented, it would be an advisory vote only, members of the city’s Solid Waste Advisory Commission were told Thursday.
Council members, in a special meeting April 8, heard a proposal and gave informal approval to holding a special election Aug. 6 on the question of whether voters want to implement curbside recycling. The council will have to take formal action before May 28 if it wants to proceed with a public vote on the issue.
City Attorney Brian Head told members of the commission, a city advisory board, that if the council does approve a special election, the ballot question would be framed around instituting curbside recycling service but would not specify a price.
The council favored the pickup of items for recycling every other week at a cost of $3.03 a month, in addition to the current monthly rate of $11.91 for trash disposal by Republic Services.
The company also offered other options. Weekly recycling pickup was quoted at $5.45 a month more. Another option is pickup every other week at $1.75 extra, but with trash disposal limited to the contents of one cart with no yard waste removal.
Head told the Solid Waste Advisory Commission that if the council formally approves the special election, the commissioners may be called on to talk to civic groups or conduct other activities to explain the proposal. If that is the case, the commissioners, as representatives of the city, would be restricted to giving educational information about the details of the proposal.
Commission members should refrain from advocating for the passage or defeat of an issue so that they do not run afoul of campaign laws, Head said.
Head also said the City Council would not be bound by the election results because votes on local issues are advisory, like a straw poll.
Mary Anne Phillips, the city’s recycling coordinator, told the commissioners that she is preparing question-and-answer material on the issue.
Commission member Richard Vaughan asked if the council could establish the service even if the advisory vote went against the proposal.
“Politically that would be very tough to do, but yes, they have the authority to do that,” Head said.
RESIDENTS WHO WANT to dispose of items for recycling may take them to the Joplin Recycling Center, 1310 W. A St.