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Chesapeake council votes to eliminate curbside recycling service to help fund pay changes for public safety employees



CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake City Council has voted to eliminate curbside recycling starting July 1, 2022.

The move is part of a series of actions City Manager Chris Price will take to help fund pay raises for public safety employees. The changes to the plan are estimated to cost about $13.1 million, according to City Council agenda documents.

About $2 million in funding will be made available by eliminating curbside recycling, documents show. The service will end July 1, 2022.

Council voted to approve the resolution with a 7-2 vote Tuesday. Mayor Rick W. West and Vice Mayor Dr. John de Triquet both voted in opposition to the measure.

The series of actions approved by City Council Tuesday night in an effort to free up funding for the compensation plan amendments also include eliminating some long-term vacancies and redirecting one cent of the real estate tax allocated to the city lockbox to the operating budget, among other actions.

The resolution also leaves the door open for the city manager to identify other revenue options such as possible increases in taxes and/or fees. The same proposal also calls for a possible discontinuance of sending some surplus money to schools.

According to agenda documents, any proposals related to the future of recycling programs or services will be evaluated during the fiscal year 2023 budget process.

Chesapeake City Council identified pay increases for public safety employees as a priority this year. The city wants to remain competitive with other localities in the region. Virginia Beach in July started incentivizing law enforcement officers to leave neighboring cities and join its department. The City of Norfolk also approved a raise for police officers this fiscal year, boosting its starting pay to $50,800 per year.

Chesapeake City Council in August voted unanimously to give a $5,000 retention bonus to officers and sheriff’s deputies certified to perform law enforcement duties.

The owner of TFC Recycling, which is contracted to provide services in Chesapeake and several other Hampton Roads localities, previously said other options should be considered to keep curbside recycling.

In November, City Council declined to create a $22-a-month solid waste fee to help offset costs of the public safety employee pay plan changes. Some council members called the fee “regressive” because all homes wouldn’t be impacted equally.

Instead, council members chose to pursue an option that would fund the public safety pay plan without imposing a solid waste fee.

Michael Benedetto, owner and president of TFC Recycling, has said eliminating the service will likely cost a lot more in the long run. He said losing the contract wouldn’t put him out of business, but 20 to 25 people may lose their jobs.

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