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The Rundown – Commission finalizes voluntary recycling plan

Post Date:01/15/2020 4:56 PM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. Jan. 14, 2020, Newton City Commission meeting

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission approved plans and fees for a voluntary curbside recycling program. The Commission vote was 4-1, with Kathy Valentine opposed.

In the coming weeks, utility customers will receive a letter to be returned to the City indicating whether they wish to continue recycling.

Customers who choose to continue recycling will be expected to follow the rules set by Harvey County’s contractor, Waste Connections. If the rules are not followed, customers may receive a fine or be removed from the recycling program. For customers who choose not to recycle anymore, their recycle cart will be removed or replaced with a second trash cart. Collection routes also may change as Sanitation staff make the necessary adjustments to their operations.

Beginning with March bills, the fee for all customers will go up $1.08 per month to cover the costs of additional landfill fees, public education, and a staff person to visually inspect carts to ensure that non-recyclables are not mixed in.

Newton has had mandatory recycling since 1999. The City has been discussing possible recycling changes since this summer, when Waste Connections reported an unacceptable amount of non-recyclables being dumped in the recycling. Beginning this month, Waste Connections has said that if a truckload of recyclables is delivered to the Recycling Center with more than 10% non-recyclables in it, the entire load will be rejected and that truck/driver may be rejected for up to 30 days after. If it happens again after the 30 days passes, that truck may be fined $350 and again be rejected for another 30 days. When a load is rejected, all contents are taken to the Transfer Station as regular trash.

Recycling has been a benefit for the City, not only because of keeping more waste out of the landfill, but also because dumping recyclables costs less. In 2020, the City will pay $19 a ton to dump recyclables vs. $35 a ton to dump trash. Whether the City kept recycling or not, costs were going to go up because of the increase in trash going to the landfill.

Commissioners agreed the program will need to be re-evaluated after about a year to determine its long-term viability.

Wetlands expansion project

The Commission directed City staff to bring back a formal project agreement for a privately funded expansion of the man-made wetlands near the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Southwest 14th Street. Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) has pulled together Ducks Unlimited, Evergy, and a local foundation to fund the project, which would include a new wetland area fed by stormwater run-off, with boardwalks and birdwatching stations.

The existing wetland was built with the Sand Creek bank restoration project in 2008, but because it can have sewage in it during high flows through the Wastewater Plant, the public cannot have access to the water. But the area has become very popular with birdwatchers, who have documented 147 bird species at the current wetlands. The expansion would greatly increase opportunities for recreational and educational uses, but the City will have to consider ongoing maintenance costs.

Community recognition

The Commission recognized Chisholm Middle School athletic teams that won their Pioneer League championships, including the cross country, volleyball, and football teams.

The Commission also honored Newton resident Christina Murphy, who received Dress for Success Wichita’s 2019 Thrive Award. Christina was honored for her work with fellow transgender veterans, Dress for Success, and as a candidate in 2019 for Newton City Commission.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Directed City staff to schedule a special meeting next week for the Commission to consider a development agreement with Mennonite Housing for a senior (55+) housing project on 14 acres of City-owned property at West First and Boyd.
  2. Approved a request from Harvey County Habitat for Humanity to waive about $1,800 in permit fees for a home being built at 130 E. 13th St.
  3. Established the dates and time of fireworks sales for 2020: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for sales and discharge on July 1-3; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for sales and 7 a.m.-midnight for discharge on July 4; and noon-10 p.m. for sales and discharge on July 5.
  4. Directed City staff to bring back a draft ordinance to allow the use of golf carts on city streets within Sand Creek Station housing development.
  5. Approved an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation to receive $300,000 for pavement preservation around major intersections on K-15. The total project is estimated to cost $542,216.
  6. Approved amendments and extension of the Comprehensive Plan through 2020.
  7. Approved the use of City property at 320 N. Main for the Harvey County Farmers Market from May to October 2020.
  8. Approved the closure of Main Street, Sixth Street and Broadway on May 2 for the Newton Car Show.
  9. Authorized funding for the Sand Creek dam replacement.
  10. Approved an engineering agreement with K.E. Miller for design of Quail Creek Avenue west of South Kansas Avenue.
  11. Designated the Newton Kansan as the official newspaper for 2020.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or

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