The expenditure has yet to be approved, but Craig City Council members are leaning toward subsidizing a recycling program despite the expense.
"I really feel that this is the right thing to do and may also be a good point of service for us," Mayor Dave DeRose said.
Road and Bridge Department Director Randy Call estimates it will cost the city more than $31,000 to start a program locally. What that number doesn't include is revenue the city could receive if a market exists for plastic, paper or cardboard. It also doesn't include -- because there's no way to gauge the popularity of such a program -- the cost of taking recyclables to Steamboat Springs.
Call estimates that each load will cost the city $200 but doesn't know how many trips will be necessary.
City Manager Jim Ferree said the cost of the program will decrease the solid waste fund's reserve to about $104,000, giving the department a 10 percent reserve. City officials like to maintain a 25 percent reserve.
"You have to subsidize it," Councilor Tom Gilchrist said. "There's no other way. You can't make it pay for itself."
To offset that decrease, Ferree recommends that the city seek an $86,000 grant. Road and Bridge is budgeted to purchase a $172,000 trash truck, and decreasing that total with grant funds would help bolster the fund's reserves.
The city's plan would put three Dumpsters, one each for plastics and aluminum, paper and cardboard, at the north water loading station on Yampa Avenue. At $6,000 each, Dumpsters pose the biggest cost challenge to the program startup. Cameras also will be installed -- another $7,000 -- to ensure people aren't vandalizing the Dumpsters or using them to dump things other than what's solicited.
"My bet is you'll get as much garbage as you do the other stuff," Call said.
Council members favor a site-specific option rather than offer curbside pickup because of the costs, including the purchase of new containers, increased manpower and reprogramming automatic trucks.
"We have to crawl before we walk," Gilchrist said.