Commissioners: We can't bail you out

MERCER, Pa. — Mercer County commissioners have agreed to help the Mercer County Solid Waste Authority with some funding but said they cannot bail it out of an anticipated deficit for the year.

The authority is looking at alternative ways of operating and discussed them in an emergency meeting today at the courthouse.

The authority, which is in charge of the county’s state mandated recycling program, is facing a deficit of $258,960. Commissioner Brian Beader said the county can provide the authority with only $100,000.

The authority is seeking more funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection for more efficient equipment for collecting the recyclables as a way to meet expenses.

Two options being considered for cutting costs are operating fewer than the current nine collection sites for recyclables and privatizing the collection process.

In addition, the authority must find a new place to take the county’s recyclables after the announcement that the Materials Recovery Facility in Crawford County will close Friday. That center is run by Crawford County’s Solid Waste Authority and is closing because of funding problems, according to Jill Boozer, Mercer County recycling coordinator.

Temporarily, the authority will send recyclables to Tri-County Industries in Grove City, but will seek bids for a facility to permanently accept recyclables.

As another money-saving measure, the authority is planning to close a consolidation center in Jackson Center if it gets permission from the DEP. The consolidation center is where recyclables are held until they are taken to Meadville.

The authority has been struggling financially since a 2006 court decision that declared that a $2-per-ton fee charged at landfills for waste was illegal. Until that decision, the county’s recycling program had been largely funded by fees collected from trucks dumping waste from Mercer County.

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