The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities residential recycling credit program is working.
On Monday, David Leathers, BPU general manager, said the new credit program has increased residential recycling. Prior to the program, which started recording how often residents recycled in March, weekly recycling rates in the city were about 35 percent. Now with the new program, Leathers said weekly recycling rates are between 60-65 percent, and 80 percent of residents are receiving the monthly credit.
Residents who recycle are given a credit or discount on their solid waste bill. Starting in May, the new monthly charge for solid waste became $20. However, the bill is only $10 if customers recycle at least once during the billing cycle.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Leathers said about the program. “We have really good (recycling) numbers compared to other communities.”
When starting the new program, BPU officials purchased new technology to record residential recycling. The BPU program involves radio-frequency identification technology – also known as RFID. A RFID tag is attached to all of the orange recycling bins with each customer’s address and account information. The bin is similar to a water or gas meter that belongs to each customer. With technology on the trucks, each bin is scanned to determine the customers who recycle. Leathers said the new technology and system are working fine.
Leathers also discussed the construction of a new substation along Isabella Avenue. He said the $3 million construction project is on schedule and will replace two older substations. The substations that will be replaced are located on West Second Street and at McCrae Point Park. Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said dismantling the two older substations will make way for attractions like the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk and the National Comedy Center.
Leathers also discussed the second coal burner conversion project. Last year, BPU officials converted boiler No. 10 into a natural gas burner. Because the first conversion went well, BPU official are now planning to convert boiler No. 9. The cost of the second boiler conversion is estimated between $2 million and $3 million. The first boiler conversion cost around $1.8 million. BPU officials said the project will pay for itself in three to five years because of capacity payments it will receive from the New York Independent System Operator.
The first boiler converted to natural gas can generate 12-14 megawatts, and is used as a backup to the LM6000 natural gas turbine, which is the main power generator for the city-owned utility. Leathers said the second natural gas boiler will also be used just as support.
In other business, City Council received its 2013 audit report. John Trussalo, certified public accountant, presented the report stating there are no weaknesses noted in the audit.
“(It is as) clean of an audit an entity can have,” he said.
He said one concern is the city’s constitutional tax limit increasing. He said after 2013, the city is at 93.38 percent of its limit, up from 92.20 percent following 2012. He said the constitutional tax margin is $889,840. The tax margin is the difference between the city’s tax levy, which was $12,547,286 in 2013, and its constitutional tax limit. The constitutional tax limit is 2 percent of the five-year average of the full valuation of taxable real estate.
“Any decision made by council should have this limit, margin in sight,” he said.
Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller, said the city received its second-quarter sales tax revenues. He said it was 1 percent higher, or $23,000, more than last year’s second quarter. However, despite the increase, Bellitto said third- and fourth-quarter sales tax revenues will have to be up, like last year, in order to met the budgeted amount.