ROMNEY —Support for the county recycling center and the county’s public libraries were on the County Commission agenda Tuesday, with commissioners debating what to do about a recycling grant and approving a library levy to be placed on the primary ballot.
Library board president Steve Moreland requested the county place the library levy at a level that will provide $215,070.
County support is required for the libraries to receive the state funds on which they depend, since the state requires its funding be matched at the local level. The county’s libraries are supported by a levy put in place in 1987 and renewed every 4 years.
No increase was requested. The libraries asked only for what they received last year, and the rate paid by property owners will actually decrease slightly, since property values have risen, Moreland said.
The funds will be split between the Hampshire County Library in Romney and the Capon Bridge Public Library, with the county library receiving 78 percent and Capon Bridge the remaining 22 percent, percentages set by the state library commission based on the library service areas.
The commissioners approved placing the levy on the May primary ballot, subject to review of the figures by the state auditor’s office.
County Clerk Eric Strite then asked the commissioners for permission to return funds from the state REAP (Recycling Assistance Grant Program) grant received by the county in 2018, saying the county had run out of time to use them.
Strite had been caught unawares by changes in procedures that now require him to get a minimum of 3 bids and to submit these bids for approval. The last time he asked for bids on recycling bins like those they planned to buy, he received only 2.
Strite apologized for not having gotten everything done in time, and asked permission to return the money with the understanding the county could reapply in July.
He also asked for input on what to apply for, since he reported that the recycling center was doing well with the number of bins it already had, despite having to accommodate some overflow at times, and adding more bins to the site “would just be more clutter.”
Commissioner Dave Parker asked if the recycling center could extend its hours, suggesting opening from 4 to 7 on Wednesday evenings. Strite later said that hours could be expanded this way in the summer for about $1,500 — “not at all beyond what we can do” with current funding.
Dorothy Kengla asked to speak on behalf of the Hampshire Recycling Cooperative, pointing out that the county’s “comprehensive” recycling plan was “not comprehensive enough,” with a lot of people in the county wanting to recycle plastic and glass, something that Berkeley County finds it possible to do.
Kengla asked that the county consider buying something to collect cans, since the recycling cooperative is currently using a trailer on loan from a volunteer to collect cans at the county recycling center, and the volunteer needs her trailer back.
Strite said the deadline for making changes in the scope of the REAP grant had already passed, but suggested the county might have a trailer in inventory that could be used.
Expansion into plastic recycling was rejected by Commission President Bob Hott, who said he had done a lot of reading on the subject and “the profits just aren’t there.” Though the commission is not seeking a profit, he explained, they do want to break even on recycling.
Parker added that much of the plastic picked up in recycling centers ends up in landfills anyway, saying plastic recycling “looks good but is not accomplishing anything.”
Both Strite and the commissioners praised the Hampshire Recycling Cooperative volunteers for the work they were doing at the recycling center, and several indicated an interest in considering what could be done to support recycling cans, with Kengla volunteering her time to help with office support or grant writing.
For now, the commissioners voted to send back the grant money the county lacks enough time to spend, planning to reapply once they have a plan for using the money.
In other business, Commissioner Brian Eglinger was elected President Pro Tem of the Commission, to preside over meetings if Hott is absent.
Strite reminded everyone that filing for the upcoming election began Monday, and there are a number of county offices on the ballot (1 seat on the county commission and 2 on the school board, sheriff, prosecutor, assessor, surveyor, 2 magistrates, and conservation district supervisor).
Candidates have through Saturday, Jan. 25, to file. On Jan. 25 the Courthouse will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, and Strite noted that mail postmarked by midnight Jan. 25 would also be accepted — though “less safe” than filing at the courthouse.
Only 1 commissioner can be elected from each of the county’s magisterial districts, so no candidates in districts F or G can run this year.
Only 2 school board candidates are allowed per district. With 2 members already serving from District E, no additional candidates from that district can run this year.