Green team must move carefully

Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci was right to point out the flaw – a big one – in a plan to levy a fee on garbage as a way to continue funding the necessary work of the JB Green Team, the solid waste group covering Jefferson and Belmont counties.

Make no mistake. The work of the group is vital to keeping the area clean. There has been a noticeable reduction in the amount of illegal dumps and trash kicked over hillsides since the team began its work to make recycling the order of the day and to educate the public on how to recycle.

From community recycling stations to test programs with curbside recycling, the JB Green Team had advanced the cleanliness of the area.

Cutbacks in the programs because of declining fees from the Apex Landfill have reduced the amount of money available to maintain recycling programs, but the need to continue doesn’t end.

But that doesn’t mean a free reign on taxation without representation should be given, either.

The rules regarding implementation of the fee required, among other votes, an approval from Steubenville City Council. Steubenville, as the largest community in Jefferson County, is one of the entities with veto power over implementation of new fees by JB Green.

Mucci pointed out that the proposal, as written, would approve not only the current fee, but also would remove the right to veto any future proposed fee increases. That’s giving up the right to represent citizens to an administrative board that includes people who were not elected, and who aren’t even from the same county.

That said, the work of the JB Green Team is still vital and necessary. Absent action from the Ohio EPA on the team’s current budget proposals, or some way to discuss fees without providing the means to increase them without end, the area could be heading back to the trashy old days.

A tax on every improved parcel in both counties could provide funds to maintain the programs, but it would need to be implemented in a way that is truly representative of the citizens.

It’s time to tread carefully to move forward.