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At its August 18 meeting, Peoria City Council approved a grant agreement with the Recycling Partnership for a pilot project to reduce contamination in the curbside recycle container.

The “Blue Lid Pilot Program” improves recycling efficiency at four similar locations, according to Public Works Director Kevin Burke.

The value of the grant is $174,192, with the city contributing $35,800

City council approved the project to curb contamination in Peoria’s marketable recyclables. Burke said an increase in prices charged by China dramatically altered the U.S. recycling industry.

“The market has significantly dropped,” Burke said. “Across the country we’ve seen a lot of municipalities suspend or terminate their recycling services.”

Burke said the city is able to pull out 32% more contamination from recyclables. He said recyclables such as aluminum, cardboard or newspaper would be more readily available for market, which he thinks is making a comeback.

“There is a $1 million investment in new infrastructure,” Burke said. “This is now in place and is really picking up and paying dividends.”

Burke said the pilot program will cost the city $35,000 for the blue lids and reminded the council of the “real value” of the grant is well over $150,000.

“They (Recycling Partnership) are bringing personnel to help audit before and after to measure contamination, providing educational material, providing consulting, etc.,” Burke said. “We are isolating the different variables, making sure that whatever results we have can be repeated in other parts of the country.”

Council unanimously approved the resolution. The Blue Lid program will be implemented in January and run through June 2021.

“I like the blue lids,” Mayor Cathy Carlat said.

City manager report

City Manager Jeff Tyne gave an update on the city’s response to the economic and health events that have occurred related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyne gave an update to the council regarding students and residential changing needs.

“While we are still in an early stage, the metrics are fortunately trending in the right direction,” Tyne said. “As a city, and as an organization, we are starting to migrate from managing from our initial crisis management mode to more of supporting the period of the next six months.”

Chief of Staff Jay Davies told the council several teams are monitoring metrics, conditions and state and local directives. Most of Peoria is trending at or below Arizona’s current case rates with ZIP code 85435 tracking higher, according to Davies. 

Davies said Peoria parks and trails remain open with certain exceptions. Davies told the council that playgrounds and restrooms remain open at all the parks. The Peoria Community Center remains closed to the public, but meal programs are still ongoing by appointment only, according to Davies.

“To further support students and parents with online schooling challenges, this week the Peoria Public Libraries at Main and Sunrise Mountain opened its computer labs,” Davies said. “Putting over 28 computers for both locations to be available for printing, copying services, and Wi-Fi hotspots to help with connectivity.”

Community assistance

Deputy City Manager Erik Strunk said $1.5 million in rental and mortgage assistance for residents impacted by COVID-19 will be brought for council approval Monday, September 8.

Strunk announced free COVID testing scheduled for Friday, September 4, and Saturday, September 5, at the Peoria Sports Complex. He told the council a successful partnership with Maricopa County made the fully funded event possible.

“Mask protocols are working very well; as a result, our workforce exposures remain very much in line with the rate of the general Arizona population,” Davies said.

PUSD assistance

To adapt to the changing conditions, Peoria City Council authorized an intergovernmental agreement with the Peoria Unified School District for on-site support services.

Chris Hallett, Peoria’s Neighborhood and Human Services director, said the city is excited to showcase another example of the partnership the city has with PUSD.

“It’s taken a lot of effort on both sides to get us where we are at for yet another IGA,” Hallett said.

In accordance with Gov. Doug Ducey’s directive, PUSD and other districts are offering on-site support opportunities for students who need a place to go.

According to the agenda packet, “This agreement will allow city of Peoria Youth Services staff to assist Peoria Unified School District staff in providing on-site learning services at up to nine different sites within the city of Peoria during the initial August 17 to September 4 time frame.”

City staff will assist the district at nine schools with a weekly impact to the city of $14,400. The initial cost for the three-week period ending September 4 is $43,200 with a possibility of a four-week extension an additional $57,708.

City council also authorized the acceptance of a $38,820 grant from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission for an emergency aid package meant to help renters, small businesses, domestic violence survivors and workers that have been disadvantaged by COVID-19.

And council unanimously approved a $31,000 grant from the office of Attorney General Mark Brnovich for safety equipment for the Peoria Police Department.