By a 5-2 vote, the Mahoning County Solid Waste Policy Committee approved a compromise under which the county recycling division will provide slightly less funding for the county health department’s landfill inspection and monitoring program.
The program, which covers the county’s two active and five closed landfills, will be 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 a cut to landfill inspection and monitoring as a threat to public health and safety, but recycling officials noted that their budget is constrained by reductions in landfill dumping-fee revenue due to reduced landfill use as recycling increases.
The compromise achieved Tuesday eliminates a major stumbling block and “clears the path” for an expected vote on the full 15-year solid waste plan at the committee’s next meeting at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 5 in the Oakhill Renaissance Place auditorium, said Mari Wren Petrony, recycling division interim director.
The agreement will benefit the health department and the recycling division, and the committee now has “a unified face for this plan,” Petrony said.
“This is not Washington, D.C., and gridlock is not acceptable. This is Mahoning County,” Petrony, who sought the deal, told the committee.
The earlier proposal in a draft plan that would have cut funding for inspections of landfills and well-water monitoring near them to $300,000 a year “would have decimated this program,” said Patricia Sweeney, county health commissioner and a committee member.
“We compromised in the spirit of good will,” Sweeney said of the financial agreement. However, she added: “We will not compromise public health.”
The two votes against the compromise came from Jennifer Jones, Youngstown litter control and recycling coordinator, and Dr. Christine Shoemaker.
“The original budget was for the health department to get $300,000. To move them back up to $390,000, $90,000 had to come from other areas of the budget, including recycling programs,” Jones said, explaining her vote on behalf of the city of Youngstown.