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Council eases terms of $25,000 recycling grant

American Recycling owner Ron Moore and public works director Tom Wooten address the City Council. American Recycling owner Ron Moore and public works director Tom Wooten address the City Council.

The Hendersonville City Council on Thursday postponed a $25,000 payment that a recycling operation owner had pledged to the city for buying rollout recycling carts.

American Recycling owner Ron Moore had promised the grant last spring when the council was debating whether to convert its citywide recycling collection service from the blue bins to rollouts.
Statewide, cities have seen an increase in recycling volume of 40 to 60 percent, public works director Tom Wooten told the council Thursday night.
Moore told the council that he had made a similar grant offer to at least four other cities in the region, including Fletcher, Black Mountain and Waynesville. But only Hendersonville voted to invest in the rollout program, which required buying the carts, buying a $190,000 truck and adding two workers at about $35,000 a year each including benefits.
Preparing for greater volume of unsorted recyclables known as "single stream," Moore said American Recycling invested in new equipment that was supposed to sort the material.
"Recyclables just aren't worth what they were when we came into it," said Moore, who has been in the business for 20 years. "We spent a million dollars on a system that was supposed to be the newest thing and unfortunately it wasn't even close to working and it ended up costing us. We have paid for it over the last couple of years and it's been painful."
Council members were unwilling to forgive Moore's grant offer outright. They agreed instead to take give Moore 17 months before requiring him to make a first installment of $5,000. He would pay $5,000 by June 2015 and $5,000 a year for four more years under the revised agreement the council approved.
Councilman Steve Caraker said it was his recollection that Moore's offer was not the decisive factor when the council voted last spring to go with the rollouts. But he added that all businesses take risks and sometimes have to pay when investments don't work out.
"When my business takes a hit or speculates wrong we take it on the chin," Caraker said.
Councilman Jeff Miller said he had sympathy for the business downturn.
"I understand but I think we go to sticky ground when we start nullifying contracts," he said.
Asked by council members whether greater volume would turn his business around, Moore could not commit. Since the sorting equipment failed to do the work, American Recycling is exporting the single-stream recyclables to Greenville, S.C., and making no money on it. Over time, he said, it may receive enough volume to make the sorting operation profitable.
Council members said they were hopeful that the city's rollouts would induce the big jump in recycling that other towns have seen.
"We're just a month into our program," Caraker said. "We don't know what we're going to yield, as far as recyclables."