By Gerhard Schneibel

The Sandy Springs City Council voted unanimously Jan. 6 to adopt the city’s solid waste management plan, which the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) approved in December.

The waste plan is the final piece of the city’s comprehensive plan. When it was submitted to the DCA in November, it was 11 months overdue. It will be valid until 2017.

Part of the plan is to reduce solid waste output 10 percent by 2017 by bolstering recycling. Currently, less than 3.5 percent of Sandy Springs’ solid waste is recycled.
Kathy Reed, the executive director of Keep North Fulton Beautiful, which operates the Morgan Falls Road recycling center, told the council her organization is having difficulty surviving.

“Commodity markets have completely dropped,” she said. “We’re getting paid next to nothing — in fact, nothing — for many of the commodities that we have typically been paid for.”

Keep North Fulton Beautiful has struggled since Fulton County withdrew $300,000 in annual support after the city of Sandy Springs was formed in December 2005. Now the group’s main sources of income are a $65,000-a-year contract with Sandy Springs and a $45,000-a-year contract with Johns Creek.

The collapsing prices for commodities are further straining the organization’s finances, Reed said.

Waste paper used to sell for $40 a ton; now it brings $7.50 a ton. The value of a ton of aluminum has dropped from about $80 to $20. The center used to be able to sell scrapped electronics, but now it must pay $250 a month to have them removed.

“Plastics, the market is now zero. … Most places aren’t even taking it,” Reed said.

Mayor Eva Galambos said: “It makes you wonder why bother to recycle if nobody wants it.”

In other actions, the council unanimously agreed to:

• Combine the council’s work session, previously held on the second Tuesday of each month, with the regular City Council meeting held on the first Tuesday. The two meetings will be advertised and held consecutively on the same night.

• Appoint Al Pond, formerly of the Board of Zoning Appeals, to the Planning Commission. Pond will replace Bob Wiley, who faced an ethics complaint in October and whose term expires in February.

• Set qualifying fees for the November municipal elections at 3 percent of the salary of the office. It will cost $750 to run for mayor and $360 to run for the council.

• Authorize the city manager to sign a contract with Norcross-based Georgia JJ&G Engineering for the construction of the $4 million Morgan Falls Athletic Field Complex. The city has $3 million allocated to start the project this fiscal year and will appropriate the rest in the fiscal year starting July 1.

• Name its 911 center with Johns Creek the Joint Public Safety and Judicial Facilities Authority for the Cities of Sandy Springs, Georgia, and Johns Creek, Georgia.