Photo by George Lauby
After a spirited discussion, the North Platte City Council voted 5-3 Tuesday to award $66,000 to Brad Borges of Regional Recycling to help keep curbside recycling in operation.
Council members Judy Pederson, Jim Carman and Tim Barrett voted no.
Borges has said that low market prices are driving the curbside program under. He said market prices for recycled goods took a dive shortly after he signed a contract with the city, and he has suffered losses.
Councilman Larry Campbell asked Borges if the money would be enough.
“If this is approved tonight, will this be the last time you ask for grant money?” Campbell asked.
“I wish I could say that,” Borges said. “Everyone involved in the recycling industry feels the market (price) is coming back. I have to succeed for the curbside recycling program to succeed.”
City Administrator Jim Hawks said the money would be awarded on a month-to-month basis.
“We will subsidize Mr. Borges to the breakeven point each month according to his receipts, showing what he received for the goods,” Hawks said.
During the discussion, Pederson suggested a monthly cap of $6,000 with the total not to exceed $66,000, and Mayor Marc Kaschke suggested a sunset provision, stopping the grant money at a certain time (one year or so), even if some of the money is not used.
It was the second time that the council considered Borges' request.
More than two weeks ago, Borges asked the citizen's review committee to recommend the grant to the council, but they disagreed 2-2 with member Brian Phares absent. That committee considers requests for money from the Quality Growth Fund -- money earmarked for business developmen, which accumulates from a small slice of city sales taxes.
So Borges went before the council two weeks ago without a firm recommendation from the advisory committee. The council delayed action, asking to see more information. Borges provided profit and loss statements, tax forms,cash flow projections and a comparison of market prices and break-even prices.
Borges said he has reasonable expectations that market prices will return to more normal levels within 3-6 months.
He and his wife Melinda bought the recycling business in 2008. They have six full time employees. The company recycles office paper, newspaper, cardboard, plastics, metals and cans, Borges said in his grant request.
At the council meeting, Barrett reiterated his disagreement with any grant.
“I don’t agree with this,” Barrett said. “People in business must sacrifice in bad times. I don’t see where any of your assets are at risk and I won’t support this.”
Carman agreed with Barrett and added “This didn’t really pass muster with the review committee and failed on a split vote. I can’t support this.”
Campbell said, “There are a lot of people invested in this already as well as grants given. It’s more complicated than running a gas station and hoping someone stops in for gas. We need to do something to help this program.”
Borges said he is committed.
“Everything I have is committed and tied into this,” he said. “I have even invested money out of my pocket. Before I got into this (curbside recycling), I had fewer employees, less overhead and could get through hard times better.”