Hopkinsville City Council approves budgets, Solid Waste to try to save recycling program

Hopkinsville City Council passed final reading of budgets for the upcoming fiscal year Tuesday night and facilitated extended discussions regarding the future of the city’s recycling program.

Hopkinsville Solid Waste General Manager Tony Sicari reminded council that he is overseen by a board of directors and that the agency is required to match any and all expenses with revenue to pay those bills.

The number of city residents and businesses signed up for recycling has dwindled dramatically since the program returned after the pandemic and it has never been able to financially break even.

After initially saying the recycling program would cease to operate due to the numbers, Sicari now says he and the board will take a couple months to step back and reevaluate how to move forward while continuing to serve the customers they have.

He says Solid Waste is giving a credit to customers who refer someone else to sign up for the recycling program, as each customer gets them closer to being able to make it feasible to continue.

Sicari says the goal is to get to 4,500 to 5,000 customers registered for recycling and acknowledged it may take a rate increase for those wanting curbside recycling, though that’s not final by any means.

Several residents spoke in favor of continuing with the curbside recycling option during public comments and Sicari says a majority of the emails and calls he’s received have been in favor of keeping it. He encouraged those folks to tell as many people as possible about the option now, as only 14 new customers have signed up since he unveiled the referral program recently on social media.

He hopes to have a new proposal for the future of recycling by the July meeting of the Hopkinsville City Council Committee of the Whole.

The operational and capital budgets passed unanimously and without discussion on second reading. The $43 million operational budget does not include any proposed tax increases and does include a 5 percent cost of living raise for city employees.