Saturday, July 13, 2013

Solid Waste Recycling - Kawalek Memo from July 11, 2013 Meeting - Fees of $40,000 for non-filing

Monique Kawalak wrote the following critique after listening to a meeting for the Ashtabula County Solid Waste Management, then sending it on to a group of other concerned citizens of our county and to Steve Magda, referred to as 'Steve' in her note below.  
This is the first of a  series of postings highlighting problems with the present functioning of Ashtabula County government. - Editor
Note and Memo written by Monique Kawalek - 
I am sending this to a group of concerned Ashtabulians - Steve I am sending this to you because you claim to be so concerned with regional programs and under this administration (both democrats and republicans) the regional programs are waltzing in. The Charter slows down and gives representatives time to address these issues as well as positions that seem to have been filled haphazardly.  Your idea of leaving the status quo here is not reasonable to cut out the corruption.  The Charter is the answer.

There was a meeting email from the commissioners office giving notice of their schedule:
Thursday, 7/11   10:00a.m.  Work Session- general matters/agenda notifications
                          1:00p.m.    Agenda
                          1:30p.m.    Work Session- recycling

Here are details from the 1:30 Work Session - recycling:

 The attached 3 page scan is the power point presentation by J. Schweitzer -  the attached 3 pages (see below) are what we were given - microscopic, I think in the hopes that it will never be read or scrutinized.
At the beginning of the presentation J. Schweitzer started out with a quote that left me so appalled I wrote it out.  "We failed to submit a Solid Waste Plan so the EPA has to do it for us." 
The Ohio EPA is writing a SWD plan with assistance from GT Environmental.  When Ms. Schweitzer failed to do her JOB she invited the EPA into our county with all of their recommendations and regulations which often are "regional". 

Questions I still have:

Is the 22k per month income from the Geneva Landfill to be spent on this recycling program a good use of taxpayer dollars? 
Shouldn't a recycling program be able to sustain itself? 
The recyclables should be sold somewhere. 

When Ms Schweitzer was queried about the income from the recyclables she said, "Oh, it wasn't much, about 5k since January". 
I wonder where that $ is accounted for and why it is not more. 

This financial picture shows monthly administration costs at 4k - exactly? This amount purports to be salary for herself and one other person managing this program.  The stated amount is low because it fails to include the benefits of PERS and health insurance.  There are also contract issues  - July 15th to be exact. 

Why is this being presented at this late stage?  AND where in this slideshow do we see the 40k fee assessed by Ohio EPA and GT Environmental? 
The OEPA representative said it is never waived.  Joe Moroski said that he would have it waived. The OEPA representative repeated that it has never been waived.  Joe said that he was able to do many things that people had told him were impossible. So...did Joe have it waived? 

If so can we get that in writing - if not where does that figure in the spending of taxpayer dollars for services they deserve and should demand? 

Since Ms Schweitzer did not do her JOB, and consequently the EPA and GT Environmental have to do it for her, should the taxpayers double pay for her as well as GT Environmental? 

At the end, Ms. Schweitzer lamented that this was a program that she started and that it was losing money and she didn't know what to do.  I, for one, was stunned at the demonstrated level of competence and lack of oversight within the County government.

She, Ms. Schweitzer, was asking for suggestions.  WHY DID  The Solid Waste District Board of Directors (Ashtabula County Commissioners) give her this JOB?

Ms. Schweitzer was asked a question by someone in the audience. The woman described how the recycle station in her area had become a public nuisance, with people were dumping trash and dangerous things into the bins which were not divided for specific recyclables. She went on to state the County Recycling program was actually costing the community even more money since they had to install cameras.

This is valuable information and feedback from the experience of someone who was obviously, involved in her local community.

Abruptly, Ms. Schweitzer crossly demanded her name and where she was from. The woman stated her name and community, as asked. Then Ms. Schweitzer moved on to another question, ignoring the question asked and the concerns which certainly were appropriately raised.

The women is a taxpayer and had a right to a polite answer from our "public employee".

Someone was there from the Star Beacon. I am sure they wrote an article - did they cite Ms. Schweitzer's quote 
"We failed to submit a SOLID WASTE PLAN so the EPA has to do it for us"? 

Did the article, if written, talk about the surprise in the room that the OEPA and GT Environmental fee was 40k? 

The questions mount. Here is the action item:
The Solid Waste District Board of Directors (Ashtabula County Commissioners) has scheduled a public information meeting to discuss the Recycling Drop Off Program. 

The meeting will be held on Monday, July 15th at 6:00 the Commissioners meeting room, 2nd Floor Old Courthouse, 25 West Jefferson St., Jefferson, Ohio.

The Solid Waste District has been operating at a loss and changes in the program must be made to make the program more cost effective.  These changes may impact the drop-off sites located in Ashtabula County.  Please share this information with anyone in your community who has responsibility for the local recycling site and anyone who uses recycling sites. 

District staff will present information regarding possible changes to the drop off program and your community’s input is requested.

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