Council approves residential garbage fee plan

Residents would pay full cost of garbage collection by end of 10 years
by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – By the year 2017, city homeowners will be paying the full cost of garbage collection as a fee added to their property tax bills.

The City Council Tuesday approved a plan to phase in increases in the current $24 annual garbage fee and $28.50 annual recycling fee over 10 years to bring the fee up to an amount to cover the per household cost of garbage collection.

That cost is projected to be around $150 a year per household by the end of the recentlyapproved 10-year contract with Advanced Disposal, according to figures presented to the council by City Administrator Brian Yerges.

“The idea is not to do this overnight, but to gradually increase it over 10 years until the entire cost is being covered by the users,” Yerges said of the fee increase plan.

“It will mean that businesses and industries would no longer be subsidizing residential garbage collection,” he added.

“This isn’t the first time the city has done something like this. It isn’t a new concept, it’s been done in the past,” Yerges said of the switch to a user-paid fee for services previously provided at no or reduced cost by the city.

Examples he cited included building inspection and zoning fees, along with the switch of public fire protection fees from the property tax levy to utilities bills in 1990.

The new contract with Advanced charges $91.80 a year per garbage stop along with an additional $33.60 for recycling, a total of $125.40 per household. The fees increase 2.5 percent a year beginning in 2020, eventually reaching $149.06 ($109.12 for garbage and $39.94 for recycling) in 2026.

The council had previously adopted a resolution that will increase the recycling fee each year to match the cost charged by Advanced, starting in 2018. The recycling fee will go to $33.60 then.

The resolution passed Tuesday will increase the separate garbage fee on the tax bills to $32.29 per household. The fee would be adjusted upward each year after that by the city administrator until it reaches $109.12 in 2026 and matches the amount charged by Advanced.

In his memo to the council on the plan, Yerges noted that the current garbage fee covers only 26 percent of the actual cost of collection. If the fee were to remain the same until the end of the contract, that would drop to 22 percent of the actual cost.

Under state law, the city is required to reduce the property tax levy by an amount equal to the amount collected from the fee increase. Yerges said that amount would be approximately $25,000 in 2017, which he noted is less than one percent of the city’s budget and property tax levy.

Under the new contract with Advanced, homeowners in the city are being required to switch to a cart collection system, which drew some questions from one citizen at Tuesday’s meeting.

James Sundee, a resident of Smith Street, spoke during the public addresses portion of the agenda and said he had some questions about the new cart system.

“Mainly it’s a matter of mechanics of where the trash cans go,” Sundee said. He noted that Advanced, in a letter to residents, said the cans should be placed at the end of the driveway with a distance of three feet between carts to allow them to be picked up by the garbage trucks.

Pointing that he lives in a duplex, he said that would require four carts at the end of one driveway, with possibly not enough room for the required spacing between carts.

He also asked about collection during the winter, when snow plowing might block driveways. He added that, on his street, the initial plowing often leaves only one lane in the street until a second pass, and putting garbage carts out for collection might block traffic.

The council received Sundee’s list of questions, which he had submitted to his aldermen, to try to answer the questions.


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