JB Green Team to lobby city leaders

STEUBENVILLE – The executive director of the JB Green Team and Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile will ask City Council members tonight to support a designation fee plan to restore funding for the financially strapped solid waste authority.

Eleven members of the JB Green Team board of directors who attended Monday night’s monthly meeting unanimously approved a motion to seek the designation fee. Four board members of the board were not present at the meeting.

The designation fee would mean communities taking municipal solid waste to landfills outside of Jefferson and Belmont counties would pay an extra fee.

“I know the Jefferson County commissioners won’t oppose the designation fee plan. And I have talked to three of the Steubenville council members who support the fee,” said Gentile during the nearly two-hour meeting.

Gentile offered to accompany JB Green Team Executive Director Cliff Meyer to the council’s Public Utilities Committee meeting set for 6:15 p.m. today.

There are nine issues listed on the Public Utilities Committee agenda for today’s meeting.

The JB Green Team must receive support from the county commissioners in Belmont and Jefferson counties, the cities of Steubenville and Martins Ferry and 60 percent of the political subdivisions in both counties.

The JB Green Team announced Monday night the test curbside recycling program in Steubenville and Martins Ferry will stop the last week of April.

According to Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller, when the project was first launched 180 bins were picked up and in the last pickup, only 88 bins were picked up. The plan was to track the usage of these bins to measure the success of the project.

“I am very disappointed to see the program come to an end, however I do understand that the JB Green Team funding has been cut drastically and that is the reason the program is ending. I am very disappointed that of the 200 people that joined the program, that on average more than half of those people aren’t even participating in the program,” said Riethmiller.

“The trial participation was not what we hoped. We are disappointed because we had high hopes for this project. We had great participation and enthusiasm from both city mayors. They were very supportive of the project and were instrumental for getting it off the ground. The Steubenville curbside recycling will finish the last Friday in April and we will be picking up the recycling containers,” said Meyer.

Mayor Domenick Mucci was in Columbus Monday and did not attend the JB Green Team meeting but later said he needed to obtain more information before commenting on the end of the curbside recycling in Steubenville.

The JB Green Team learned late last year the owners of the Apex Sanitary Landfill had sold its railroad assets and planned to stop receiving out-of-state solid waste at the Amsterdam facility by March. The JB Green Team is funded primarily from tipping fees at the landfill.

Meyer has been proposing different options to the board of directors since December as the two-county agency has watched its funding levels decrease.

Steubenville officials have asked the JB Green Team to build a solid waste transfer station to be used by the city. The city’s sanitation crews currently take municipal waste to the Brooke County landfill.

“I have a lot of reservations about the solid waste authority having control of a transfer station,” said Belmont County representative Chuck Dawson.

“I don’t believe that we should be in the transfer station business. I believe a private company should make a profit. There is an opportunity to make money. I think it could be done by a private company or it could be operated by the county,” remarked Meyer.

Steubenville City Manager Tim Boland said the city will look at all options before making a decision.

“The city has the right to veto a designation fee. It is a question for the City Council and they will make that decision,” Boland said.

“We are not out of time now but we will get there soon. We will have to pursue additional revenue to support our operating plan,” remarked Meyer.

In other business Monday night, JB Green Team legal adviser John Mascio said the owners of the Apex Landfill have agreed to pay $69,653.98 for delinquent tipping fees to the JB Green Team in 12 equal payments.

“Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge David Henderson had issued a summary judgment in our favor but the landfill had filed an appeal to the 7th District Court of Appeals in Youngstown. But the owners continued to have conversations with us and agreed to pay the fees at a 3 percent interest rate,” explained Mascio.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of this case. I was confident all along the authority was owed the money,” said Mascio.