Faced with a larger than expected price tag for providing cameras and lighting for the recycling site in Bingen, the city is asking for support from other jurisdictions.
On Feb. 2, the Bingen City Council reported that the estimated cost to provide a video camera and lighting at the site -- just east of SDS Lumber Co. on Lakeview Boulevard -- would be about $5,200.
The surveillance equipment is needed because illegal trash dumping at the site may result in the permanent closure of the facility, which has become popular with area residents since it was opened in the late 1990s.
Until last year, the site had been open around the clock. Garbage dumping has contaminated some of the recycling bins, meaning entire loads of recyclables have had to be dumped in the landfill. The site is now closed except when the Bingen Public Works office is open (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.).
To be able to again reopen the facility around the clock, the city recently solicited bids for lighting and surveillance cameras.
Bingen City Administrator Jan Brending pointed out that there were two bidders on the project, with the low bid for the lighting coming from Riverside Electric of White Salmon, and the low bid for the camera/monitoring system coming from Hire Electric of The Dalles.
The combined total for the camera and the lights came to approximately $5,200.
"I'm shocked," said council member Laura Mann. "I didn't expect it to be $5,000. If these are put in, would the site be open all the time?"
"Once the lighting and camera is in, it will be open 24-7," Brending responded. "But if abuse happens again, the county will want to shut the site down entirely."
Brending added that it is possible the lights could be mounted on the Public Works Department building next to the site rather than on a new pole, thus saving an undetermined amount of money. Riverside Electric will be asked to submit a new bid based on this alteration.
Council member Clinton Bryan asked if there were any guarantees that the surveillance system and lighting will put an end to illegal dumping at the recycling center.
"It creates a problem for me if we spend this much money and have to close the site down anyway," said Bryan.
Councilor Catherine Kiewit said if the county contributed to the project, that might make it less likely the site could be closed.
"If they contribute anything, their buy-in would make us feel they are more invested in the site," she said.
Mann thought both White Salmon and Klickitat County should share the costs of the surveillance system, since the site is open to all residents, not just Bingen's citizens.
"We should ask the county and White Salmon to split this three ways with us," said Mann.
On Feb. 3, Brending brought the council's requests directly to members of the White Salmon City Council.
"The recycling center is used by much of the county," Brending said in that meeting. "We're asking if White Salmon can assist in helping us pay for this cost, since the entire community uses the facility. Any funding, any support is appreciated by the city of Bingen."
White Salmon Mayor David Poucher said he was receptive to the idea of contributing as a way to ensure the recycling center remains open. But he pointed out that the City Council members would have to make the decision.
"Hopefully they will take that up at the city operations meeting," explained Poucher. "I definitely agree we need something done. We definitely want to keep that place open. It's a resource we need to have."
White Salmon resident Wayne Carlock said he was angry the recycling site is being abused.
"I'd like to see them take some pictures of people dumping garbage in those bins and go out and give them a fat ticket," he said.
In a related development, Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes announced last week that the recycling site -- which has been closed except on weekdays -- will be opened during the day on Saturdays, starting immediately.
"We'll open it from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays on a trial basis until the cameras are up," Barnes said.