ECUA board to vote next week on proposed new recycling contract

SHALIMAR — The Okaloosa County Commission did its part Tuesday to make things right when it comes to re-establishing the county’s traditional recycling program.

Now it’s up to the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority’s board of directors to finalize that restoration.

Commissioners unanimously approved a proposed new agreement that, with ECUA board approval, would see recyclables from customers of Waste Management in the county’s two-part, unincorporated franchise area processed once more at the ECUA facility in Cantonment.

Most commissioners in mid-September had agreed to have those recycled items sent to a “waste-to-energy” landfill in Jackson County, rather than paying more to keep sending them to the ECUA facility and instead of disbanding the recycling program altogether.

A flood of complaints from many diehard recycling proponents, however, led to the proposal to resume the partnership with the ECUA.

The Authority’s board plans to consider the proposed new agreement next Tuesday. If finalized, the contract would remain effective until Sept. 30, 2021, with county solid waste enterprise fund money covering the ECUA’s estimated cost hike of about $350,000-$400,000 per year to process the low-market-value recyclables.

“The discussion with (the Authority) has been very positive to this point” and county officials expect the ECUA board to finalize the proposal, county Public Works Director Jason told the commission.

In response to questions from Commissioner Graham Fountain about the proposed contract, Autrey confirmed that no Waste Management customers in the county’s overall franchise area would see a rate increase on their bills, and that the enterprise fund money that would be utilized wouldn’t include any dollars from the fund’s emergency reserves.

After speaking with Waste Management officials Monday, County Administrator John Hofstad said the company will store all of the recyclables it collects from the county's franchise territory until the proposed agreement with the ECUA is finalized.