published Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Recycling bins first fruits of Chattanooga's new budget

With the passage of its $216 million operating budget Tuesday night, Chattanooga is one step closer to allowing glass inside curbside recycling bins.

The public works department is nearly ready to roll out the free, 96-gallon cans that will be distributed to the city's 16,000 recycling customers. But whether the 1,000 customers who already bought cans for $50 will get their money back is still up in the air.

City spokeswoman Lacie Stone said the mayor's office is studying that option.

The city's operating budget passed unanimously. It includes $3 million in the road paving budget; nearly $1 million for the police department to fix a pay disparity and $250,000 to start a city-led Baby College to educate expectant parents. Before the final budget approval, Mayor Andy Berke held two roundtable discussions with health care providers and educators to gather community ideas for the parenting classes.

Public Works Director Lee Norris will ask the City Council on Tuesday to change the contract with the Orange Grove Center, whose workers sort the recyclables, so that glass can be included for curbside pickup.

The prospect of being able to recycle glass along with paper and metal has some residents excited.

"I think it would be more encouraging for more people to use it," said Robert Schreane, North Brainerd Community Council leader.

On Tuesday, the council will discuss the city's capital budget, which will include a $1.5 million request from public works to buy three more trucks for the recycling services and to cover other increased costs.

It will likely take 60 days to get the bins after the budget is approved, and then letters will be sent out to each customer already signed up for the program, Norris said.

New customers can sign up to receive a bin by calling the city's 311 line.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at or 423-757-6659.

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about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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