Controversy over recycling ordinance continues

Posted By: Brent BonFleur

Controversy over a new recycling ordinance for Lincoln continues.

Mayor Chris Beutler came up with a plan that would have required garbage companies to offer curbside recycling, as well as ban corrugated cardboard and paper products from the landfill.

But on Monday, the City Council voted 4-3 to change the ordinance, and got rid of the bans.

On Thursday, Mayor Beutler vetoed that amended plan, saying it is a big step backwards for Lincoln – a city he says is on the rise in many areas, but is lagging in recycling.

"You can say all day that you love recycling, but as the old saying goes, action speaks louder than words," Beutler said.

"What the Council has done is to take out almost all the benefits and retained all the cost. Lincoln residents deserve better."

As concerned as he is about the council’s policy, Beutler says he’s even more disturbed about how the changes were made.

"The process of the Council majority was rushed and not transparent. Public input was denied," Beutler said.

Beutler said the amendment was kept secret until only a few hours before the vote on Monday, and that the council majority refused to delay action and give the public time to assess the changes.

Councilman Trent Fellers – who proposed the amendment – says Beutler’s claims about the council’s transparency are inaccurate, adding that the council members listed to hours of public input and saying the changes were made with the best interests of Lincoln residents in mind.

"It was crafted in order to meet the goals and concerns of both sides, and have a recycling policy that would be a positive approach for Lincoln," Fellers said.

Fellers also said the mayor is too focused on the removal of the bans, and is ignoring all the positive aspects of the ordinance.

"We passed an ordinance that was a policy for recycling in Lincoln, and, you know, I think that was the right move for us," he said.

"It’s unfortunate that my colleagues and the mayor didn’t agree with me."

Fellers wouldn’t speculate on whether the council will reach the five votes necessary to override the mayor’s veto.