Richland city staffers propose garbage rate increases

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldNovember 28, 2012 

People living in Benton County's second-largest city might pay more for garbage service starting next spring.

Richland city staffers are proposing some solid waste utility rate changes in 2013, including a 3.6 percent increase in the rate for basic residential refuse service.

Council members discussed the recommendations during a workshop session Tuesday. They didn't take any action but will consider the rate changes next week.

Mayor John Fox said afterward that it's "regrettable we're talking about increasing rates."

But, he added, city officials expect they could keep the new rates stable for at least three years.

The city hasn't raised solid waste rates since 2010. It made significant changes to its program then, with the intention of revisiting rates in a couple of years.

Today, residential customers pay $16.90 a month for basic garbage service. The proposed change would add 60 cents to the monthly bill. The rate for commercial refuse collection also would go up by about 3.5 percent for small containers, with no changes proposed for large containers.

Some commercial and non-resident landfill rates also would rise.

A consultant helped with the rate study, which found that some rates -- including for residential garbage collection -- would need to rise even higher than proposed to cover actual costs of service. But money paid by non-residents who use the city's landfill and reserves accumulated for the landfill's eventual closure help mitigate the need for a bigger hike, according to information from staff.

"Adopting the recommended rate increase will provide rate stability between 2013 and 2015 and allow for a conservative approach to accumulating closure reserve funds," a staff memo said.

The council could put off a rate increase until 2014, but that could mean a larger increase would be needed, the memo said.

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