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County May Take 2nd Look At Recycling Pact With Bloomington, Normal

Packet of recycled materials
Eric Stock
Midwest Fiber Recycling in Normal processes recycled materials through Normal's drop-off recycling program.

McLean County may try again to join a cost-sharing agreement for drop-off recycling with Bloomington and Normal.McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez said Tuesday she plans to ask the County Board's Executive Committee to consider the plan -- after the county's Land Use and Development Committee voted 'no’ last week.

“We are just looking forward to the opportunity to have another chance to explain the benefits of the program and what it can bring to everyone and to keep the waste out of our landfills,” Rodriguez said.

Bloomington and Normal already have approved the agreement that calls for the city, town and county each paying $65,000 in the first year. That rate would change in future years based on who is using the recycling program.

Several land use committee members who rejected the plan said the county should pay less of the total cost. Surveys done by the Ecology Action Center (EAC) in 2018 showed about 30% of the program’s users live outside Bloomington-Normal, including about 5% who live outside McLean County.

Up until now, the Town of Normal has covered the cost of the recycling program. EAC executive director Michael Brown said those costs have escalated as markets for some recycled materials shrunk. Brown said he was grateful the town kept the program running even as it cut back the number of drop-off sites to reduce costs.

“This is just a very critical part of the total recycling services for the entire community,” Brown said. “I think people do want to see (the agreement) happen in one form or another.”

Bloomington Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus said the city was willing to pitch in to help its neighbors to the north. If the county doesn't contribute, Tyus said the city isn't ready to kick in more money.

“If anything changes, we’ll listen, but we’re not at a point as of now to consider increasing our share at this point,” Tyus said.

Rodriguez said the executive committee will likely hear the proposal on April 12, or at its meeting in May.

Rodriguez said if the committee rejects the plan, a county board member would have to request a vote at a full county board meeting for the plan to proceed. 

The land use committee vote fell along party lines. Republicans all voted "no." The executive committee has eight Republicans and one Democrat.

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