Summit Daily letters: Telling the full story of the recycling issue
November 30, 2016
Remember that Timberline is a business
After reading the articles on Summit County's recycling issues and seeing how one-sided the issue has been presented, I believe it necessary to offer another opinion to the story.
Timberline does a wonderful job helping keep our community clean with their waste, recycling and composting services and they have made some valuable contributions to the community such as HC3's Tim McClure Benefit.
We all want to do the right thing but I think HC3, Summit County Government and Summit County residents should pause to consider that we can't expect and should not force a single company to subsidize, either directly or indirectly, the SCRAP program. The landfill charges some of the highest waste and recycling tipping fees that I have personally seen, almost 40-50 percent higher than our neighbor, the Eagle County Material Resource Facility, and facilities in Denver. Timberline has created a cost-effective solution with their Silver Plume transfer station and has found an incredible waste and recycling facility to haul and properly dispose of items.
A "flow control" will ultimately be a step backward for many Timberline customers and for the county since items that were once recyclable would be trashed and buried. I was told by county officials that the landfill has around 60 years left before it reaches capacity; if a flow control is enacted, then surely we'll be running out of time and space sooner. In addition, not only will Timberline customers be forced to recycle less, I suspect a cost in all services will increase should Timberline be required to haul trash and recycling to the Summit County landfill.
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There are only two trash removal companies in Summit County — Waste Management and Timberline. There used to be more but the others have left the business. Not profitable. To have any mandates seems un-American. Free enterprise and competition is the backbone of this country. Recycling is not a "right" but it is the right thing to do.
Summit County does not create any of this trash. It is brought in with tourists who enjoy our beautiful county, second-home owners, locals and the businesses here serving this ever-growing population. I see no other solution but to subsidize this service just as we do our other infrastructure — roads, schools, housing. We can always look to the sales tax revenue to support this recycling endeavor but we have gone to that resource many times. It is presently pretty high compared to other communities and I'm not sure the tax payers would vote yes for an increase. Maybe they would.
However, there is one place where a sales tax has been avoided in this county — the ski areas pay no sales tax on their mountain food operations to any adjacent towns in the county. Even though all the food, supplies and deliveries go over town-maintained roads and are taken possession of on town properties. Because the deliveries are transported up the mountain and their point of sale is not in the towns, they avoid paying any sales tax to the towns. I believe the county receives a sales tax but none of the towns. Not even Breckenridge.
This tax could be ear-marked for recycling which they are a major contributor of, and probably cover most, if not all, of the deficit in SCRAP. And it would be the right thing to do.