Garbage collection service in Payette is likely to be approved for a rate increase of approximately 3 percent, which could go into effect this summer.
At the Payette City Council meeting on June 3, Mark Fulwiler, site manager for Hardin Sanitation, presented a revised pricing schedule for the company’s services in Payette. City officials didn’t immediately approve the new prices, but that was only because they need to have a written resolution in hand to perform that action. Toward the end of the June 3 discussion, Mayor Jeff Williams directed city staff to prepare a resolution in time for the council’s next regular meeting on June 17.
If the request is approved as presented, the monthly service fee for residents’ once-per-week pick-up would rise from $11.24 to $11.58, and the corresponding charge for the container (single container) would rise from $2.35 to $2.42. Most residents would therefore see an overall increase of 41 cents per month to $14.00, up from $13.59, a 3-percent increase.
Hardin Sanitation, the city’s longtime franchisee for the service, hasn’t asked for an increase during the past four years, Fulwiler said.
“We haven’t asked for a rate increase since two thousand fifteen,” Fulwiler said. “Just over that four-year period, the U.S Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor statistics puts it at about six percent increase. Our labor costs over the last four years have risen eight percent. … We’ve invested over three-hundred-thousand dollars just in the last year in our equipment, and that’s carts, containers, trucks,... things like that.”
If the council approves the rate increase later this month, it would go into effect in July, which means customers would initially see it on the bills they receive in August.
Councilor Craig Jensen called attention to Williams’ ongoing negotiations with Hardin on a new franchise agreement.
“Well, how’s negotiations going, mayor?” Jensen asked Williams.
“Negotiations are done. We’re just working on the ordinance [on the new agreement], and we’ve spent a lot of time talking about that, and I think at our next meeting we should have the ordinance,” Williams answered. He added, “Verbally, we’ve come to an agreement.”
Jensen said he assumed the 3-percent increase the council was looking at that night would be reflected in the new franchise agreement. Williams responded that this wasn’t the case.
Fulwiler clarified, however, that there is “new CPI (Consumer Price Index) language in the upcoming agreement.” The CPI would set the upper limit for any increase that could be implemented without special approval from the council.
“If it falls inside of that, then we don’t need to come before you and ask,” Fulwiler told councilors. “It would just automatically happen. If fuel prices or something outrageous happens, and we’re looking at five, six, seven, a big jump, then obviously we would come in and present that to you.”
Fulwiler continued, “This increase … hasn’t been done here for a number of reasons. But, three percent is justified. I think that’s what you guys raised the sewer and water this year.”
Jensen voiced satisfaction with the plan.
“My personal opinion is, having it gauged to something — being able to say, OK, here is why — is much better than saying we won’t gauge it to anything, just every once in a while we’ll come in and ask,” Jensen said.
Councilor Mike Kee asked Tulwiler and Williams if their discussions on the upcoming franchise agreement had included the possibility of implementing a recycling program. Fulwiler and Williams both indicated they had talked about it, but at least for the near term, significant recycling isn’t in the picture.
“Recycling is a long process,” Fulwiler said. “Most of it has to do with education. … It takes ten to fifteen years to get a city of this size to a full curbside recycling program. You can’t just stick them out there. It’s not going to happen over a month or a year even. … But, yes, we’re very interested in recycling programs here.”
“The question becomes,... is it financially feasible to do that in this community?” Williams added.
“I’m sure it’s expensive,” Kee said.
“It is,” Fulwiler confirmed. Hardin Sanitation does try to spark people’s interest in it, though.
Said Fulwiler: “We put out recycling dumpsters in certain areas of the city. We promote it, we advertise it and see if people will use it, and they just don’t. … Of course there are a number of residents who like to recycle and do recycle here in Payette, but the cost versus that, and then implementing it over time, is another conversation.”