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Cost to condos holding up Hilton Head recycling

Concerns about price increases and harm to local hauling businesses are delaying approval of an islandwide recycling program.

A proposal to approve a five-year contract with Republic Services for residential waste and recycling collection has been removed from Tuesday's Hilton Head Island Town Council agenda by Mayor Tom Peeples.

"I am absolutely committed to getting this done. It's the right thing to do," Peeples said. "But I need additional information to clear up allegations being made by the management companies dealing with condos and villas."

Councilman Bill Ferguson also requested that council review the bids and contract language in more detail before making a final decision.

Property-management companies on the island say the mandatory residential recycling program will lead to a substantial cost increase for condo and villa owners.

Town staff disagrees.

Cost for the franchise program is $44.25 per unit every three months for villas and condos. That's $14.75 per month, compared to the $10 to $14 per month regimes, villas and property-management companies now pay for trash pickup without recycling, said Charles Cousins, town community development director.

Residents also can recoup a large portion of their monthly fee through Republic's Recycle Bank program, which provides discounts to local businesses, Cousins said. Those businesses then pass along those discounts to customers participating in the Recycle Bank plan -- participants earn points that can be applied for discounts based on the amount they recycle, similar to reward points on a credit card.

Patricia Norris, property manager at Marsh Side Owners Association, said owners would pay $4.66 more per month.

"Yes, $4.66 more per month is a lot of money to the owners at Marsh Side and this doesn't even include any other regime increases needed for the 2011 budget," Norris wrote in an e-mail. "With all the foreclosures and owners who have stopped paying their regime fee because they are upside down on the value of their property, the cost per month, per owner is larger than the calculated amount."

Other residents say the agreement would create a government-sponsored monopoly that harms small businesses already providing service.

Homeowners would pay $55 to $62 every three months, which would be less than what many trash haulers now charge, according to information provided by the local haulers.

The plan excludes commercial properties and residential complexes where trash is placed in large trash containers. Town officials said service for those places would be addressed later.

Under the town's proposal, residents could opt out of the trash and recycling pickup service but would have to haul their garbage and recyclables to a county-owned convenience center. Islanders who already have recycling contracts could continue to use those companies for as long as 18 months.

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