Note: This story appears in the Sunday, June 30 newspaper on Page A3.
The composting program will in fact continue in Athens, though interested residents will have to pay for it.
A pilot test program funded by the city was set to end on Sunday, and organizers sought a way to keep it going despite unwillingness from the city to continue funding it.
Athens City Council met in special session on Thursday to approve residential compost hauling rates going forward. The program will be optional, and interested households will pay $20.65 per month for the service. Those wanting the service are asked to call the city’s utility office at 740-592-3347 to opt-in.
Those who participated in the pilot program are automatically enrolled into the program, and have until July 15 to signal their intent to not continue with the service or else they will begin being charged.
Thursday’s decision to continue the program follows months of discussion from city officials, Rural Action and the Athens-Hocking Recycling Center. Rural Action oversaw the pilot program, which featured about 300 households taking part, The Messenger has reported.
Bruce Underwood, executive director of AHRC, told Council that the $20.65 fee could be brought down if more households participate. Were the program to be embraced by residents citywide, Underwood said, the cost could drop to a few dollars per month.
Andrea Reany, a representative of Rural Action’s Zero Waste Program, told Council she is happy with the compromise of the fee amount. She advocated for education and promotion of the program to increase participation.
Council member Chris Fahl said officials should later revisit the fee’s amount once more residents opt-in to the program.