Households that participate in the city’s recycling program could pay about $50 more per year to cover the cost of recycling, under legislation endorsed by Madison’s Finance Committee Monday.
The “resource recovery special charge” would apply to all curbside recycling customers, including most single-family homes and properties with eight or fewer residential units and some smaller commercial parcels.
It will not be imposed on properties that use private recycling services, including larger residential parcels, most commercial properties and all industrial properties.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and three council members proposed the ordinance adding the charge, recommended in the 2022 budget approved by the council in November.
The Finance Committee voted 4-1 with one member absent to endorse the fee, estimated at about $4.10 per month, or about $50 annually per household. The charge would generate about $1.5 million in its first half year for the city’s $360.3 million operating budget. In its first full year, in 2023, it is estimated to generate $3 million.
People are also reading…
The full City Council could take up the charge as early as April 19.
If the charge is not adopted, that will open a $1.5 million revenue gap in the budget for this year, streets superintendent Charles Romines said.
Council President Syed Abbas, 12th District, cast the lone no vote, saying he couldn’t support a “regressive” charge that would disproportionately affect those with lower or fixed incomes.
The charge is not based on volume so as not to punish those who recycle more of their waste, officials said.
The city has several fees or special charges, including a vehicle registration fee, known as a “wheel tax,” established in 2020 that will generate $6 million this year, and an urban forestry special charge established in 2015 that also will generate $6 million for the current operating budget.
The recycling fee would allow the city to recover all or most of the costs of providing recycling services for residents, the proposed ordinance says.
“Madison has had an incredible recycling program for decades, and as we continue to face environmental concerns, our programs and policies regarding sustainability are a priority,” a mayor’s office memo says. “(But) recycling markets have been volatile over the years and costs have gone up. We also face other rising costs, including in compensation, fuel, supplies and vehicles needed.”
An added charge for the service ensures the bulk of the costs will be borne by those using it, the ordinance says.
Also Monday, the Finance Committee unanimously endorsed having the city create a permanent homeless men’s shelter at a city-owned property at 1902 Bartillon Drive on the Far East Side and starting the process of selecting design and engineering services and an operator for the facility. It will take about three years to open the facility if the council authorizes moving ahead at the site, which could also come next Tuesday.
The city is now using a temporary shelter at the city’s former Fleet Services building at 200 N. First St. on the East Side, which will be soon transformed into the $16.5 million Madison Public Market. The Finance Committee on Monday unanimously accepted a $4 million state grant to support the Public Market, with construction expected to start in November.
In the meantime, the city will spend the coming months creating a temporary shelter at a city-owned, 31,500-square-foot building on 2.67 acres that formerly held Savers and Gander Mountain stores, at 2002 Zeier Road near East Towne Mall.
50 years of recycling in Madison
It’s been half a century since the city of Madison launched its curbside recycling program, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. A lot has changed since the early days, when residents were encouraged to bundle their newspapers with twine, but the city continues looking for ways to save landfill space and find new markets for waste material.