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Oelwein Mayor Brett DeVore, right, makes a point at the Fayette County Solid Waste Commission meeting Oct. 8 at the Fayette County Courthouse. Oelwein has withheld payments to the Commission until they act on a resolution Oelwein issued them. Also pictured from left are Hawkeye Mayor Don Kelly and Oelwein Councilman Warren Fisk.

WEST UNION — The Fayette County Solid Waste Management Commission wants Oelwein to stick to the Commission’s 1982 charter agreement to work with all the towns of Fayette County to plan, develop, operate and maintain solid waste facilities, including — since 1990 — the recycling program.

Commission members made that clear at a special meeting on Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Fayette County Courthouse in West Union. Following discussion, the Commission unanimously approved taking no action other than refusing to accept a related recent Oelwein City Council resolution, and it will continue to maintain the collector-site large recycling bins.

“(Oelwein City) Council discussed Monday that they will resume payment and work with the commission on better options for the community,” City Administrator Dylan Mulfinger said. “The citizens of Oelwein are paying to have this service.”

Recently, the Oelwein City Council voted to suspend payment to the Landfill Commission for recycling fees. The city had not been satisfied with the service provided in the recycling program, particularly the drop off bins, which they claimed were serving as a site for residents to drop off garbage of all kinds, making a mess and causing city employees to have to clean up the non-recyclable items.

A resolution from the City Council stipulated:

• That the commission work with local businesses in Oelwein to host the recycling bins, manage all recycling sites and take all responsibility for cleanup.

• Also that the commission work toward an improved intergovernmental sharing agreement (or 28E) that spells out the responsibilities of the cities involved.

Oelwein also asked the commission to remove the boxes from the city-owned property. They have been removed pending further discussion with the Oelwein Council.

The stance of the commission is that the roll-off box system is “status quo” and the fees agreed to by Oelwein are still in place.

The fees for operating the recycling program are $1 per capita, per month, or $12 per person per year. Oelwein, with a population of just over 6,000, pays approximately $72,000 a year. Since Oelwein is the biggest town in Fayette County, that is the largest amount paid to the commission.

Currently, Oelwein offers a recycling program of its own to residents, where recyclables are picked up curbside by a private waste hauling business. There is no rule that they can’t do this and still be a part of the commission, but in addition to recycling the commission also provides waste disposal, facilities, comprehensive plans, and other responsibilities state law requires.

“We’re still collecting the fees (for recycling). Once the resolution is met, we will release the funds,” said Oelwein Mayor Brett DeVore.

“Threatening to not pay is a negative thing to do. You could be a little friendlier,” said Fayette County Supervisor Janell Bradley, representing the County Board on the Commission.

“If you walk away, you’ll have to meet all the mandates on your own and you’ve already pre-paid for monitoring trash at the landfill. There are huge regulations with solid waste and monitoring a landfill,” said Rod Marlatt, who directs Fayette County Conservation.

The recycling building site near the Prairie View Care Facility south of West Union, and the initial start-up equipment to process recyclables were provided by Fayette County and over $250,000 in grants obtained through the workings of the Fayette County Conservation Board.

“The bins are a complete mess and a lot of people don’t even know what they’re used for. I think our situation is unique because we’ve got quite a bit more population in Oelwein,” said Oelwein City Council member Warren Fisk.

“It’s not our problem,” said Hawkeye Mayor Don Kelly, a representative on the Commission. “We can pull the trailers out but you’ll still pay.”

“We need to stop the mess. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Fisk said.

“I think it’s a disservice if you don’t provide it,” Bradley responded.

“I just think you need to be fair to everybody,” Fisk said, pointing out the large population differences between Oelwein and some of the smaller towns in the commission, saying more people create more garbage.

DeVore said he would share the information from the meeting with the other council members and go from there.

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{div id=”i4c-dialogs-container”}Oelwein Daily Register reporter Mira Schmitt-Cash contributed to this story.{/div}

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