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City Hall: Lincoln's recycling program to cost more in the coming year
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City Hall: Lincoln's recycling program to cost more in the coming year

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Recycling Collection

A Uribe Refuse driver picks up a recycling container at Seacrest Field last year. 

Maintaining Lincoln's residential recycling collection sites will cost the city more money annually than the city has been budgeting, City Council members were told Monday.

"$600,000 will not do the job,” Interim Transportation and Utilities Director Tom Casady told council members at a budget briefing.

The international market for recyclables tanked, drying up the revenue once generated from recycling programs for cities such as Lincoln. 

And after the city's contractor, Von Busch and Sons Refuse, went out of business, the city paid another contractor to take over the work of servicing the 28 recycling sites.

The contract for the new contractor, Uribe Refuse Services, has been increased by $1.5 million, according to city records. 

Redirecting money earmarked for new heavy equipment at the landfill helped the city cover the unexpected expense, Casady said. 

The temporary contract is up at the end of May, he said.

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For now, Lincoln has 19 collection sites in the city and nine in the county.

But the city is evaluating that number and a host of other factors in the program, such as the location of the sites, the number of contractors servicing them and the size of recycling containers. 

A billion-dollar project

Building wellfields, pipelines and a new treatment plant along the Missouri River to secure a second source of water for Lincoln would be a billion-dollar effort, according to city officials.

The water restrictions ordered in Lincoln amid Platte River flooding last March showed the need for a second water source, if for nothing else than redundancy in the system, Donna Garden of Lincoln Transportation and Utilities told the City Council on Monday. 

Also, projections of city water usage show Lincoln meeting the capacity of its wellfields near Ashland by 2052, and that projection includes two planned wellfield expansions, Garden said. 

City officials believe the Missouri River presents the best option for Lincoln, and, in 2013, they projected the cost of building an operation at the river at $500 million.

In 2040 or 2045, when the city's need for the second source will be more pronounced, that estimate would be $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion, Garden said. 

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"If you put that in perspective of how the state handled the flood over the last year, that was a billion dollars worth of damage across the entire state," she said. "Our second source of water would end up costing us more than that."

The city set aside $1 million for the future expense in this year's budget and has plans to increase funding in future budgets, she said.

A study examining a water partnership between Omaha and Lincoln is also underway.

Omaha's Metropolitan Utilities District has extra capacity in its treatment plant, so buying water from Omaha could be an option, Garden said. 

Fast takes

2 — The number of companies Lincoln is negotiating with to operate scooters during a pilot program this spring. Lime, Spin, Bird and Zagster had all applied to deploy their dockless, electric scooters in downtown Lincoln. The city could have selected up to three companies for the program. City officials haven't identified the companies they're negotiating with because of the ongoing contract talks.

UpLNK — The website where city officials want potholes reported so they can collect data and dispatch crews to the fill them. UpLNK can be downloaded onto Android and Apple phones, and reports can also be made through the city's website: Lincoln.ne.gov/city/uplnk.

4 — The number of new trucks the Lancaster County Engineer's Office received to help with snow-fighting efforts. The dump trucks can plow and spread materials and brine, County Engineer Pam Dingman said. Six more are expected to arrive later this year.

2.15 percentage points — The increase in vapor product sales to minors in Lancaster County between 2018 and 2019. Illicit sales of e-cigarettes were made during 7.25% of compliance checks, where minors working with law enforcement try to buy tobacco products at local stores, according to a city news release.

Lancaster County Board approves rules for new livestock operations

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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