SUNBURY — The Sunbury Municipal Authority approved a new 50-cent service fee to use the recycling portion of the transfer center, a move expected to generate nearly $20,000 and keep the center open for nearly 40,000 users a year.

The proposal was passed unanimously by Chairman Charles E. Schlegel, Vice Chairman John W. Michaels, assistant secretary/treasurer Norman L. Koch and board members Larry T. Welfer and Thomas A. McBryan. Secretary/Treasurer George R. Groff and board member William H. Rowe were absent.

“It’s the most fair way to spread the cost over all the users,” Koch said. “We have a lot of users outside the city.”

Wastewater Manager Mike Kerstetter said he was pleased with the vote and the authority can now proceed with the installation of the automated arm system.

“Our plan is to have it installed by the end of the month,” Kerstetter said. “It won’t be used for at least two weeks, so people get used to seeing it. By the end of April, we should start charging.”

Koch said the Tuesday night meeting had no public participation.

Budgetary issues have forced the authority to impose the 50-cent fee. For years, operating costs at the recycling facility have exceeded operating revenue, but state Department of Environmental Protection operating grants and prices for recycling materials have both decreased significantly in the last two years.

Each customer who uses the facility will pay a 50 cents each time they use the recycling center no matter how much material is being brought into the facility. Between 40,000 and 50,000 customers use the facility each year with half from the city and half from surrounding communities.

The arm system was purchased using part of a $250,000 equipment grant from DEP, which was also used to purchase blacktop, building repairs, a front-end loader and six new light-weight containers.

Kerstetter said the facility sees an average of 900 tons of recyclables each year.

Recyclables include such items as brown, green and clear glass; aluminum cans; electronics; paper, magazines and newspapers; tires; and plastics. Municipal waste includes home garbage, furniture and construction debris.

The transfer station is open 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Email Justin Strawser at jstrawser@ dailyitem.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLStrawser.

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