Hannibal seeks boost in recycling fee to maintain facility - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

Hannibal seeks boost in recycling fee to maintain local facility

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Northeast Missouri Sheltered Workshop employees, clockwise from left, Tim Hudson, Cornell Stewart and Sam Ferrara, sort various types of plastic Wednesday from “the dish” inside the recycling facility in Hannibal, Mo. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson) Northeast Missouri Sheltered Workshop employees, clockwise from left, Tim Hudson, Cornell Stewart and Sam Ferrara, sort various types of plastic Wednesday from “the dish” inside the recycling facility in Hannibal, Mo. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)

By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Hannibal residents will decide in the Nov. 5 if an extra $1.20 per month is worth maintaining more than 50 local jobs and recycling services for the community.

The ballot issue aims to increase the current 70-cent monthly recycling fee to $1.90 to help with equipment maintenance and payroll at the NEMO Shelter Workshop. The workshop handled more than 697 tons of recyclables in the first eight months of 2013.

John Yancey, president of the workshop board, explained the cost to maintain the outdated equipment has risen, and the market price for recycled materials has steadily dwindled. The income from recyclable commodities can fluctuate between $3,000 and $14,000 each month. Yancey said bumping the recycling fee will give the facility the stability it needs to stay open that market prices can't accommodate.

"We're not just eager. We're desperate for it," Yancey said. "There's not near enough income to pay all the bills. So while we've been getting some assistance, it's not enough to maintain our facility in the community."

The current fee brings in about $5,000 each month. It is charged to residents and businesses through the Hannibal Board of Public Works.

The workshop employs 44 individuals with disabilities and eight full-time or part-time staff members without disabilities. It receives $18 per day for each employee with a disability through The Department of Secondary Education under Senate Bill 52.

"We're trying to have a decent workplace for people that need a decent workplace," Yancey said. "We're trying to do a job that needs to be done."

Lesa Frosch, assistant manager for the workshop, said even with this assistance, the workshop struggles to keep up with operation expenses. The facility recently began charging $10 to pick up large loads of recyclables from businesses, which generates an extra $800 per month. Adding a cost to this once complimentary service has created some of the funding needed to meet payroll until the election.

"It's like we're going payday to payday now," Frosch said. "If this passes, which I really feel like it will, we're going to be doing pretty well."

Several of the employees have been on that payroll for years.

Margretta Williams is a home manager for two women who have worked in the NEMO Shelter Workshop for nearly 20 years. In that time, she's seen the women grow as individuals and gain a sense of pride in their work.

Tasks at the workshop vary based on skill level. The employees help sort through piles of recyclables such as cardboard, water bottles, newspapers and shoes. The items are loaded in a baler and sold for market price. Williams said the two women she aids come home after a day of work excited about how much cardboard they've sorted through and the spending money they've earned at their job.

"It's something to keep them busy and get them out into the community," Williams said. "It gives them the responsibility of being able to have jobs."

Williams believes if the shop closes, her clients may struggle to adapt to new jobs. After 20 years, the two women have become comfortable with the staff, the job and fellow co-workers.

"They've been there so long, and finding another place they can go is going to be difficult," Williams said.

If passed, the ballot issue will set the fee at $1.90 for a three-year period.

This summer, Yancey projected that the workshop couldn't sustain itself through April 2014 without a boost in revenue. The workshop's board will determine when the operation should close if the ballot issue doesn't pass.

"I don't know how long we can expect the thing to operate the way that it does," Yancey said. "A lot will depend on how much longer we can go with the equipment that we have."

 

--mmenderski@whig.com/221-3385

 

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