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Roberts Foundation pledges $10K to curbside recycling

July 06, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO -- Boonsboro's Town Council voted Monday to accept a $10,000 donation from the Nora Roberts Foundation for curbside recycling in town, even though the town has not decided to adopt a curbside recycling program.

Many council members said the county should take on the responsibility for a recycling program, and some suggested that the donation could be used to fund items other than a town recycling program.

The vote was 6-0 to approve the donation.

Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said the town should not turn down the donation, and if it decides not to offer curbside recycling, the money will be returned. Until that time, the money will be kept in an interest-bearing account.

Kauffman said the town plans to study the possibility of offering curbside recycling when officials consider their trash pickup services later this year. Residents now recycle using a bin provided by the county, but do not have curbside service.

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Kauffman said the donation could be used to help fund curbside service or could pay for a feasibility study for curbside service. A recycling task force in Boonsboro also completed a study of curbside service in 2008, and said at the time that the majority of town residents surveyed favor curbside recycling, even for an additional fee.

"You accept it, and you look at all the possibilities for its use," Kauffman said of the donation. "We certainly should not look a gift horse in the mouth."

Councilwoman Cynthia Kauffman said the money possibly could be used to offset the cost of curbside service for town residents who want to use it, if the service is too expensive for the town to pursue.

"There are lots of ways the money could be used," she said.

However, Mayor Kauffman and some council members said Washington County should be responsible for establishing a curbside recycling program.

"I'm just appalled that the county government isn't taking more responsibility in this," he said.

Councilman Kevin Chambers said he also believed recycling was a county issue, not a municipal one, saying the county government is responsible for waste and the state of the county's landfill.

"Shame on the county for not stepping up on that," he said.

County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, the liaison to the county's solid waste advisory board, said in a phone interview Monday night that the board has been working for six months to include additional recycling efforts at the county landfill.

"Obviously, one of our goals is to establish a countywide recycling program that makes sense for the community," he said. "And I agree with (the Boonsboro Town Council) that it's the county's responsibility to institute that type of program countywide."

Aleshire said that before the current Board of County Commissioners leaves office, he expects a plan for a countywide recycling program will be in motion.

Town Councilwoman Barbara Wetzel said recycling is everyone's responsibility.

She questioned why, "It's OK for us to pay $226,000 for trash removal, but it's the county's responsibility to do recycling."

Wetzel said the donation from the Nora Roberts Foundation was a step in the right direction, and said that perhaps it could be the seed money that determines whether the town -- or even the county -- offers curbside recycling.

Wetzel, a former member of the town's recycling task force and current liaison to the group, also congratulated the task force during Monday's meeting for winning an award through the Maryland Recycling Network.

Janeen Solberg, task force chairwoman, told the town council that the task force, which formed to pursue curbside recycling in town, won the outstanding environmental and community leadership award.

Solberg presented a plaque to the town and Kauffman congratulated the group for its "efforts on behalf of the town."

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