Hemet City Council agrees to 67-cent ‘recycling materials fee’ request

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The Hemet City Council approved a request from CR&R, the city’s contracted trash collector, to add a 67-cent “Recycling Materials Fee,” due to the cutoff of China’s recyclables purchases in recent months.

The council took the action following a presentation of a CR&R representative who showed how China’s decision to no longer purchase certain recyclable materials from the United States has left the international recycling market seriously reduced.

Many of America’s waste paper and other materials now lay bundled in warehouses without any buyers, leaving recycling facilities with the option of burning, dumping or using the few new anaerobic digesters to turn the waste into biofuels, according to the spokesman. He said CR&R is looking into the technology.

The city requires all residents and businesses to pay for trash pickup and contracts with CR&R to make the pickups. The company in turn sends the bill to the city for collection on their behalf. If a resident or business fails to pay the bills, the city places the uncollected cost onto their annual property tax bills, which if still unpaid could result in a lien on the property. This process has caused some contention in the past from landlords who have renters who don’t pay.

Only one city resident came forward to comment on the decision, saying there are many low income families and seniors who can hardly afford any raise in utilities. Her comment was taken under advisement.

Mayor Bonnie Wright commented after hearing of the amended new fee, “I’m surprised it wasn’t more.”

Mayor Pro Tem Russ Brown said his family were avid recyclers and was concerned residents might lose interest in the recycling movement because of China’s action. He cited the effort in recycling that has steadily been increasing in the world, might slow unless other recycling avenues are found.

City decides on median strip color.

Interim City Manager Christopher Lopez said his staff has been in contact with Caltrans on the current Florida Avenue Highway 74 raised median safety project. He said Caltrans wanted to know what color the council might prefer on the median strip, and if they still wanted landscaping on the Florida Avenue from Sanderson to Lion avenues and Columbia to Santa Fe streets. Caltrans also offered to do most of their work on the medians at night if the council preferred.

The council, after some discussion, decided of the four colors offered the darker red stamped herringbone color would be preferred on the medians for consistency with other medians in the city.

The council, with Councilman Michael Perciful absent that evening, agreed to Caltrans’ offer to complete the work at night, but they held off a decision about landscaping portions of the median until a possible funding source was found.

Cash funding for public events questioned.

The council also discussed whether the city should continue to provide cash funding for a number of local city events, but they decided not to make any decision until the entire council convened.

The city manager was asked to keep a record of the overtime costs incurred by city staff and public safety departments during the special events, mostly held on weekends to determine what agencies, including nonprofits, might be receiving as “in kind” services. Meanwhile, no special events already planned through the rest of the year, the city has promised to help, would be affected. The discussion may continue at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

Electronic lockbox purchase approved.

A request to purchase 17 new upgraded “Keysecure 5” lockboxes with software for $17,000 and $524 per year licensing agreement was approved and approved utilization of $33,000 for the purchase of software equipment and supplies for EMS ambulance units and fire engines needed to electronically open the lockboxes was discussed.

Lockboxes are placed at the entrances of gated communities and other facilities to allow quick access by emergency vehicles when needed. Currently keys are used to open the boxes.

Councilwoman Karlee Meyer questioned paying AMR to install the lockbox software in their ambulances when as a private company they should bear the cost themselves.

“Why should the city have to pay for the software to AMR. That is a billion dollar private business. They can afford it,” Meyer said.

Fire Chief Scott Brown said AMR with its five local ambulances is an integral part of the city’s emergency response team and works with the department to bring the fastest emergency aid to all in need. The ability to quickly open the lockboxes by the first arriving units is critical to saving lives, Brown said. He said the city will still own all the electronic lockboxes installed.

The purchase request was approved with more discussion planned about the city expenditures currently made to private companies.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.