The City of Claremore voted to temporarily incur the cost of running the county solid waste program in Claremore, Tuesday.
The free dump was set to close when county funding ran out on October 1.
District 3 County Commissioner Ron Burrows attended the city council meeting on Tuesday to convince the city of the value of the service and ask for their temporary assistance.
“You can see the frequency of customers that we get is pretty astounding,” Burrows said. From January to August this year, the Claremore site has been used more than 2,000 times, and typically sees about 10 people a day.
People dump items that cannot be picked up by their regular trash service, like brush, mattresses, tvs, furniture and remodel material.
“This had a noted improvement to the trash that’s out along the side of the road and sitting out in front of people’s houses,” he said.
The Claremore location frequently services county residents from all three districts, so long as they have a Claremore address.
Burrows said, “What I’m asking, because of the requests by so many people in the county to keep this program open, is to see if the city would temporarily be able to fund this program on a month to month basis until we get that one cent question back on the ballot.”
Burrows said that if the county votes no at that time, then both governmental bodies can reevaluate their agreement.
The Claremore yard cost that the city subsumed is $5,553 a month, a total of the salary without benefits for one employee ($3,243) and the cost of dumping the waste ($2,310).
Assuming the one cent sales tax passes the special election in early 2019 and goes into effect in April, the county will start receiving funds again and be able to resume maintenance of the program by June, 2019. In that case the total cost to the city would be just under $50,000.
The special election for that measure is expected to take place either January 8 or February 12.
“This is a great service,” Ward 4 Councilor Will DeMier said. “I’ve used it several times.”
“We could absorb the cost,” said City Manager Jim Thomas. “We’ve got some flexibility in the budget to absorb it, at least temporarily, to get through this fiscal year.”
Mayor Bill Flanagan suggested that this would also be a good test-run for the city to see if maintaining it’s own year-round dump for city residents or increasing the number of city-wide “clean-up days” would be feasible.
“By having a place where people are able to dispose of those things, it saves us later on from picking it up on the side of the road,” Flanagan said.
“There have been a lot of complaints on social media, so we could get some good press from this,” said Ward 1 Councilor Susan Kirtley.
Ward 2 Councilor Justin Michael pointed out that by the city incurring the cost of a county employee’s salary, they were also potentially saving someone’s job.
In Burrows’s district, Catoosa has also agreed to take over the cost of the dump located in their city, and Inola is set to vote on the issue in their next meeting.
In District 1, run by Commissioner Dan Delozier, the county will continue to operate the warehouse in Chelsea.
District 2 Commissioner Steve Hendrix said that he plans to approach the city of Oologah with a similar temporary funding proposal during their next council meeting.