Grayling Charter Township officials aim to clear the air regarding recycling and trash disposal
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 11:56am caleb
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Legal jargon included in a letter regarding trash compactor and recycling fees is causing some confusion for Grayling Charter Township property owners.
But Grayling Charter Township Supervisor Lacey Stephan III said people who have received the correspondence need to delve into the past to learn how the surcharges were created.
Township residents have been paying a $45 special assessment, which has been in effect for 15 years, to take their garbage to the trash compacter located on North Down River Road.
The special assessment is set to retire this year, and will be renewed when the winter tax bills are mailed.
Township officials had their attorneys write the language for how the special assessment will be collected, which Stephan acknowledges was misleading and has caused some confusion.
Stephan said officials wanted residents to be aware that renewal was taking place, but instead of levying the special assessments every five years, it was renewed for 15 years.
The tax is only levied on approved property, which includes land where homes, cottages, and cabins or other buildings have been built that are connected to electricity.
There were a few instances where owners with unapproved property were unnecessarily charged with the tax.
“We did find three or four properties which had been paying the taxes the whole entire time that shouldn’t have been in it,” Stephan said.
In the past, Crawford County collected a $12 surcharge to help supplement a county-wide recycling program. Others funds came from a settlement of a lawsuit with the former owners of the local landfill, since garbage from other areas in the state was brought to Crawford County. The counties were not included in the county’s waste management plan. Otsego County also collects funds from settlement of the litigation since both counties once owned and operated the landfill.
The county-wide recycling program is no longer intact.
“Each individual township does their own recycling now,” Stephan said.
The township collected the tax for recycling like it does for school districts, Kirtland Community College, and county agencies which levy millages.
The funds were turned into the county, and at the same time, checks were written to the townships for the same amount.
“It was a bureaucratic nightmare,” Stephan said.
Now, Grayling Charter Township residents will have the surcharge to operate the recycling center on their township tax bills.
But instead of charging the $12, the fee has been hiked to $15 to cover the added cost of recycling.
Recycling is currently not a profitable venture because countries such as China are no longer buying the products that are going into manufacturing goods.
“Recycling has been tanking,” Stephan said. “We’ve been losing money.”
The confusion is coming as property owners are thinking they are going to have pay a huge tax hike, when in all reality the increase is only 2.8 percent as the charge for recycling is going from $12 to $15.
“They thought this was above and beyond, and was brand new, and was going to double,” Stephan said.
The Grayling Township Board of Trustees approved a resolution at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 16, to put the surcharges on the winter tax bills.
Stephan said people with second homes in the township don’t have to take their trash downstate and can dispose it before they leave the area.
“They didn’t even realize they were able to utilize our service and have been paying for it,” he said.
The trash compactor and recycling center are fully staffed and is the least expensive option to utilize in the area.
The increase in the fee for recycling will pay for the employees, equipment used to band the items, a forklift, and storage of the materials.
Recycling is unlimited and is done in a heated garage, where people can drive in, and employees will help them unload their items.
Employees also staff the trash compactor.
“If there is somebody that is struggling, they can help them unload their trash,” Stephan said.
The trash compactor and recycling center are open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Anyone seeking further information about trash disposal and recycling is encouraged to call the Grayling Charter Township Hall at (989) 348-4361.