Town Decision Costs Two Steps Jobs

Published 3:26 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Editor, The Herald:

For the past thirteen years, businesses in the Town of Farmville have separated cardboard from their waste stream. The cardboard has been collected by the Town of Farmville and delivered to STEPS for our employees with disabilities to bale and ship to a recycler. This collaborative partnership has been a true asset to STEPS, providing much needed jobs for citizens with disabilities in our community.

In mid-February, when faced with an ongoing financial deficit in our recycling operation, STEPS informed our customers an increase in recycling processing fees would be instituted April 1st. The recycling center lost over $14,000 during the first six months of this fiscal year. Increases in fuel costs and the federally mandated minimum wage, as well as a drastic reduction in the resale market, forced us to make the painful decision to increase our recycling fees. This increase was the first one in four years for paper products and three years for other products. In hindsight, we should have been marginally increasing our fees each year. However, we recognized the financial stress our local governments were under, and we attempted to cover the deficit ourselves. This can no longer be the case.

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After the Town of Farmville was notified of our rate increase, they made the decision to no longer process the cardboard collected from Town businesses at our facility. As a result of the loss of this volume of cardboard, two of our employees with disabilities at the recycling center will lose their jobs. The Town of Farmville has agreed to continue to pay us for processing the products collected from the curbside recycling program; however, this will not cover the loss of the business cardboard.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the counties of Cumberland and Prince Edward for their continued support of our recycling efforts. To my knowledge, our efforts on their behalf will remain unchanged, and we will continue to operate our recycling center for as long as we can.

A word to town businesses: we would love to continue to process your cardboard, and we welcome any suggestions you may have to make that happen.

Sharon Harrup