Recycling services will continue on Kodiak Island, after the borough assembly voted to renew its contract with Threshold Services Inc.
There were some doubts among several assembly members about the cost of the contract, quoted at $297,000. But after dozens of public comments at Thursday’s meeting imploring the assembly to approve the measure, the group did just that. They voted 4-2 in favor of the measure.
Assembly Members Julie Kavanaugh, Andy Schroeder, Duane Dvorak and Scott Arndt voted yes. Dennis Symmons and Rebecca Skinner voted no.
Threshold is a nonprofit that’s been processing recyclables on Kodiak since 1984. It employs 11 people at its processing plant, five of whom are disabled. But costs in the recycling world have escalated in recent years as China has stopped accepting American recyclables.
As Threshold’s director Chris Lynch noted in its application to the borough, recycled materials have no value right now in Seattle, where Threshold ships to. That has pushed the cost of the contract up.
“I don’t disagree with the need for it, but the cost just keeps going up,” Arndt said at the July 9 work session.
Engineering and facilities Director Dave Conrad said it was difficult to compare numbers in the past 10 to 15 years, due to the recent cost increases.
“I understand that you can’t necessarily take the numbers from 10 years ago if it was $90,000 then and almost $300,000 in the current contract and compare on an apples to apples basis because things do change,” Skinner said at the work session. “But at the same time, things do change. And so we need to evaluate this on the whole spectrum of why we’re doing it.”
Threshold was the only entity that bid for the contract. And as many of the commenter’s noted, without the group there would be no recycling on Kodiak, something that would be bad for the environment and for the island’s landfill.
“You have many, many challenging decisions to make during your time as an assembly member, but this isn’t one of them,” community member Julie Hill said.
“This one is a win-win. Our community wins, our residents in Kodiak who are challenged by working in different settings win, our landfill wins, so I don’t see this as a big dilemma.”
UPDATED: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Dennis Symmons had voted "yes" and Scott Arndt had voted "no" on the Threshold measure.