At Tuesday's meeting of the Elk County Solid Waste Authority, a lengthy discussion was held concerning the possible hire of a worker(s) to aid in the running of the Elk County Community Recycling Center in the Stackpole Complex in St. Marys. The Elk County Commissioners were also present at the meeting to give their input on the matter.
At previous meetings, the authority had discussed hiring an employee to work at the center to provide needed assistance and to help curtail the amount of comp time put in by Elk County Recycling/Solid Waste Coordinator Bekki Titchner, Elk County Solid Waste Authority/Conservation District Secretary Diane Meyer and County Enforcement Officer Dave Stubber. Debate centered on how large a role the authority should play in hiring someone to help out at the center.
Elk County Solid Waste Authority Chairman Russ Braun said previous discussions centered on whether they could hire someone directly through the authority using post-closure funding from the county derived from payment for recyclables and other conservation projects, or whether the county would need to hire the person.
"We need to find some help at the recycling center. To be blunt with it, it would be a lot easier and a lot less red tape for the authority to do that, providing, and this is the thing, this is why the commissioners are here [Tuesday night], if they could fund that position with post-closure funds, similar to the way that Dave's employed with the Conservation District," Braun said.
"The issue is that the county has a recycling center down there running now. It's a wonderful, amazing thing. It's surpassed all of our expectations. Bekki's doing a wonderful job managing that place down there and getting it off the ground, no doubt about it," Braun said.
He said a comment had previously been made by someone in the commissioner's office about the amount of comp time accumulated by Titchner and Meyer through their work at the center.
"And that's when this help, or some way to man that place while taking that workload off the staff here in the office, that's where this all came to a head at, and how is the best way to manage that?" Braun said. "Now there's two options - the county can hire somebody to go down there and do that, or the authority could put itself into a position to go down there and do that. And the authority can't do that unless we use post-closure funds. And odds are, the county's not going to do that unless they can use post-closure funds to fund it. Either way, that's the only way it's going to happen."
Elk County Commissioner June H. Sorg said they have a question into Elk County Solicitor Tom Wagner whether the post-closure funds can be allotted to the authority to hire someone or whether the county must direct the funds.
Authority Solicitor Jim DeVittorio said Wagner issued an opinion regarding the use of post-closure funds to hire someone. The opinion said that while the county can use that money to hire someone, there is a question due to a state statute. DeVittorio said according to that statute, the county has to spend the money. Therefore, the county may have to hire someone directly rather than allot the money to the authority for that purpose.
"To my mind, the issue is, whether the authority, as a political subdivision of the county, can use that money," Braun said.
"According to the statute, the county has to spend the money. That's the way I read the statute," DeVittorio said.
Braun was concerned that it would take some time before the county could hire someone because of "red tape."
Sorg said positions are advertised for five days in-house, and after that they are advertised to the public. It was estimated that after a decision was made, someone could be hired to work at the center within a month.
Braun questioned whether a part-time employee, as had been previously discussed, would be sufficient to meet the center's needs. He said he thought a full-time person five days a week might be better due to the amount of work involved.
Sorg said the county would need to take a look to see if a full-time employee was reasonable.
"But would one part-time person be enough to relieve the comp time issue?" Braun asked.
Titchner suggested that possibly Stubber could help fill that role.
"I guess what's the most complicated thing here is Dave. Dave is employed through the Conservation District. The majority of Dave's work is done for the solid waste program," Titchner said.
Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, February 1, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.
Elk County Solid Waste Authority
Tuesday, Feb. 28
Courthouse Annex Conf. Room 2