The Lincoln City Council approved a three-year recycling education contract with a local firm but at a scaled-back cost.
The $617,522 contract with Global+Co mirrors the company’s original bid, without some extra items sought by the city during contract negotiations, according to Donna Garden, assistant director of Public Works and Utilities.
The city’s budget already included funding for a recycling education program, Councilwoman Jane Raybould pointed out. A state grant will cover $225,000, with the rest of the money coming from the city’s landfill occupation tax, a fee on waste haulers passed on to customers.
The council voted 6-1 to approve the contract, which is about $230,000 less than the contract amount first presented to council members. Only Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm opposed the slimmed-down contract, saying she would prefer the money be spent on other priorities.
Councilman Jon Camp suggested the council remove the “behavior change” language from the name of the contract, entitled “Comprehensive residential and commercial recycling communication, education, engagement and behavior change initiative.”
Camp had previously questioned the “behavior change” language, saying it smacked of “big brother.”
But Chair Roy Christensen pointed out that removing the language doesn’t change the fact that the company is using a research-based process that encourages people to change their behavior.
And he jokingly recommended Camp start recycling before the program begins to avoid being influenced by the behavior-change marketing efforts.
The contract represents “a reasonable compromise,” Christensen said.
The council had delayed a decision on the original $850,000 contract after some council members and citizens questioned the amount and contract provisions at an earlier public hearing.
During that delay Carson+Co Global suggested a shift to a one-year contract, with possible extensions. But the city attorney said the city could not change the contract that substantially without rebidding.
The other option was to move back to the original $617,500 bid amount for a three-year contract.
During a Monday public hearing some opponents of the contract suggested citizens would be better served by spending the money on street maintenance and construction.
Supporters at the hearing pointed to the need to increase the city’s low 22 percent recycling rate.
“If this conversation were about football, we would be hiring a new coach,” said Andrew Norman, executive director of Hear Nebraska, who said recycling is part of how young people judge a community when deciding where to live.
Don Wesley, representing Recycle Bank, which was among the unsuccessful bidders for the contract, suggested the city reopen bids.
One idea not discussed previously, providing recycling containers to every household, might be a part of a new bid and a successful campaign, he said.