By a unanimous vote, the seven-member Mahoning County Solid Waste Policy Committee approved a long-range, solid-waste management plan.
The plan, approved Tuesday, will keep landfill dumping fees at $1.50 per ton for waste originating in Mahoning County or out of state; and $3 a ton for waste that originates within Ohio, but outside of Mahoning County.
Those fees, which the county collects from its two active landfills, constitute almost all the revenue for the county’s recycling division, whose 2013 budget is about $2.8 million.
The 230-page plan, which is updated every five years, ranks the top five priorities for spending recycling- division money, with the top priority being administering the division and monitoring compliance with the plan.
Second on the funding priority list is paying for residential, business and industrial waste-reduction and recycling programs.
Third is funding for county board of health inspections at the county’s two active and five closed landfills and testing of well-water quality near them.
Fourth is paying for the county sheriff’s department’s anti-littering and anti-dumping enforcement program.
The lowest priority is funding the county engineer for maintenance of roads that are heavily used by landfill-bound trucks.
The third-priority item proved to be the most controversial, but the committee resolved it last month with a compromise, approved by a 5-2 vote. In that compromise, landfill inspection and monitoring was cut from $400,000 a year to $390,000 annually this year and in 2014 and to $388,000 annually from 2015 to 2027.
Township officials and the health department had opposed cutting landfill inspection and monitoring as a threat to public health and safety; but recycling officials noted their budget is constrained by declining landfill dumping-fee revenue due to reduced landfill use as recycling increases.
“You have compromised. You have a solid plan going forward,” said Mari Wren Petrony, interim director of the recycling division.
The plan must be ratified by the county commissioners, Youngstown City Council and governing bodies of communities representing 60 percent of the county’s population, with Youngstown counting toward the 60 percent under state law.
The deadline for ratification and submission of the plan to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is June 11.
Petrony also informed the committee that she is resigning effective Feb. 22 to devote her full-time attention to raising her two young children.