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AZTEC — Aztec residents may see lower solid waste rates as the city closes its recycling convenience center located next to the Aztec Public Library on Ash Street.

Last year, the City of Aztec signed a new contract for trash pickup. This contract included mandatory curbside recycling for all resident. Rates went up to accommodate that new service, but residents were also paying for the recycling convenience center. The recycling convenience center will likely close at the end of this month.

During a meeting on Feb. 11, Mayor Victor Snover said getting rid of the convenience center may lead people who currently use it but don’t live inside city limits to dump trash in parks and on public lands. However, he said it is not fair to ask the Aztec residents to pay for the service for the county residents.

The City Commission voted unanimously to publish a notice informing residents of its intent to adopt the new rates. Residents can provide input about the changes prior to the final adoption of the new rates. 

If the commission chooses to approve the new rates, it will lower the bills by 21 cents each month.

While the recycling convenience center is going away, the city is adding a new service. All residents will now be able to call Waste Management and have the company pick up hazardous waste or electronics at their door. This will provide residents with ways to dispose of used motor oil, paint, pesticides and other chemicals as well as used televisions, computers and cell phones.

Most of the debate during the meeting centered around how often recycling should be picked up. Snover favored twice monthly pickups while Commissioners Rosalyn Fry and Austin Randall said the pickups should remain once a month until more residents are using the service.

Currently, only about a quarter of the Aztec residents use the curbside recycling, although all residents pay for it.

Dan Darnell, a representative from Waste Management, told the City Commission that the 25% recycling rate isn't a bad thing because the service is new. He said he is encouraged to see it that high in Aztec and predicts about 60% of residents will be recycling in two or three years.

Adding an additional recycling pickup would raise customers’ bills by 60 cents.

Ultimately, the commission chose to keep the recycling pickups once a month.

Commissioner Sherri Sipe said a 60-cent increase can be a lot for some of the residents who are on fixed income.

People who need more frequent recycling pickups can pay for an additional recycling receptacle or take the recycling to the recycling center located at the landfill. Each Aztec resident has six trips to the landfill each year included in the rates.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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