Jefferson City High School freshman Hailee Redel, 15, went to Tuesday's Holts Summit Board of Aldermen meeting armed with research and potential solutions to the city's recycling problem.
The city recently announced the board had decided to cancel recycling services and close its two free recycling receptacles.
"The environment has been a passion of mine since middle school," Redel said after the meeting. "And I recently joined speech and debate at my high school, Jefferson City High School. I've done a lot, a lot, a lot of research on the environment and how much it was suffering and how global warming will go up 2 degrees by 2050."
Redel — whose father, Chris Redel, is Holts Summit's Ward 2 alderman — has been to meetings before.
"We knew this was going to be on the agenda tonight, and she had done some research and she wanted to come talk to the aldermen about that and maybe throw out some options," her mother, Mindy Redel, said.
"Anything to try to save it," Hailee said.
Standing in front of the board early in the meeting, Hailee let out a stream of questions. As the meeting continued, Hailee chimed in with facts and suggestions: Why was the city canceling recycling services? Had they considered canceling anything else instead? What about alternate solutions? Could partnerships with other places or curbside recycling work?
City Administrator Hanna Lechner said the city did try to balance the budget in other ways. But everywhere they tried to cut costs — from changing how they got postal stamps to office water sources — they found themselves bound by contracts.
"We attempted to cut other services but failed to do so because past administrators before my time signed contracts without board approval," Lechner said. "So we couldn't cut those service contracts."
The issue of curbside recycling is also weighed down with history — Holts Summit tried to introduce it in 2016.
"We just had to have 600 people sign up, and we didn't have that many people interested back then," Lechner said. "But I think if we tried it today, there would be a lot more people that would be interested in it."
After the discussion, Hailee was reassured the board had carefully considered the problem before doing away with its recycling bins.
"I think they quite literally have no option," Hailee said. "I think they've tried everything. At this point, curbside is their best way."
In addition to curbside recycling, the board also discussed other solutions. Lechner said she's been contacted by an organization that wants to help find an answer, perhaps through a partnership with Callaway County.
Though Holts Summit's current recycling services have been definitively canceled, the Board of Aldermen decided to wait until its next meeting to officially surplus its recycling receptacles.
In other business Tuesday, the board discussed what to do with damaged or inoperable vehicles inside city limits and new business licensing fees. Both issues will be brought up again in future meetings.