FORT EDWARD - Following public outcry from concerned residents, the Washington County Board of Supervisors rejected a plan on Friday to reduce hours at the county's five recycling stations.
But supervisors did approve a plan to raise the recycling sticker cost from $1.50 to $1.75 for the rest of the year. The 25-cent hike will increase revenue by an estimated $83,000.
"We are thrilled that a majority of supervisors listened to the public and voted responsibly to keep the recycling transfer stations fully open," said resident Tracy Frisch. "Our next job is to help Washington County go from crisis management to a vision and plan for the 21st century."
The plan, which was approved by the Public Works Committee earlier this month, would have reduced operating hours to three eight-hour days per week at all but the busiest station and leaving that station open four days a week for 10 hours.
The transfer stations are located in Granville, Jackson, Whitehall and Kingsbury. The Greenwich location would keep its regular hours under the proposal.
As many as four positions would have been eliminated at the recycling stations. The total savings would have been $49,000.
Board Chairman Donald Wilbur, the Greenwich supervisor, who voted for the closure plan, said tough decisions need to be made during an economic recession.
"The public sector shouldn't be immune to what's happening in the country," Wilbur said. "People are going to have to adjust to things now that our country isn't as prosperous."
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It's likely that supervisors will be looking at different areas to slash the budget in order to limit any major tax increase in 2010, he said.
"We're going to have to have the will to do some things that are unpopular or we're going to be in deep trouble," Wilbur said.
Six residents spoke at the board meeting on Friday to protest the reduced hours. Many said the hours would hinder recycling in the county.
"As it becomes more difficult to use, fewer people will be recycling," said Rich Bender of Greenwich. "If a private hauler takes my waste, I have no idea what happens to it."
Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell supported increasing the fee to $2 as a compromise solution to not reducing hours at the facilities.
"The budgetary concerns are just piling up," Campbell said. "If we took care of solid waste this month, who knows what's next."
Like Wilbur, he said tough decisions will need to be made in other areas of county spending.
"Nobody really wanted to take the bull by the horns so to speak," he said.