The fees are not currently covering costs of collection, leaders say. The average user should see a 33 cent billed increase.
BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER
Solid waste fees were increased 2% Tuesday, in the Ormond Beach City Commission's proposed 2013-2014 budget.
At a workshop in July, commissioners reached a unanimous consensus that it would be better to raise rates for solid waste a small amount now, rather than waiting until a large increase becomes necessary in the future.
The city's final budget will be approved in September.
According to Dan Stauffer, city accounting manager, the current average single-family residential user fee is $13.59 per month for garbage and $2.89 per month for recycling, for a total of $16.48 per month. With a 2% increase, those charges would be $13.86 per month and $2.95 per month, for a total of $16.81 per month.
City Manager Joyce Shanahan said the city has not raised the rates in several years.
She told the commissioners at the Tuesday meeting that when the city first contracted with Waste Management in 2009, the city sold its garbage trucks and put the money into a fund to offset the cost of collection. In the beginning, the fund had $3 million and now has less than $1 million, which is what prompted the increase.
In a separate agenda item, Waste Management Inc. asked for an increase of 1.47% on the amount it charges the city for picking up the solid wastes. The city pays Waste Management with the fees it charges residents and by drawing from the reserve fund.
Dan McGinnis, a consultant for Waste Management, told the commissioners that the company had seen increases in the cost of diesel fuel, lubricants, and equipment.
City staff urged the commission to reject the request. A memo from Assistant City Manager Ted MacLeod to the commission said “Waste Management received a 2.65% increase last year while the city’s tax rate remained unchanged. The City has managed to hold the line on its costs despite increasing prices for fuel and operating supplies, increasing pension obligations and insurance cost increases; (we) expect Waste Management to do the same.”
Shanahan said an increase by Waste Management would offset any gains the city makes by increasing its solid waste fee 2%, and the city would have to raise rates even higher if the Waste Management rates were approved.
The commission rejected the request by Waste Management for higher rates in a 3-2 vote with Mayor Ed Kelley and Commissioner Richard Boehm voting to accept the increase.
Kelley said he was torn by the question.
“I find it hard not to grant a small increase,” he said.
Boehm said he thought about the issue earlier that day when he carried a heavy bag to the curb.
“These are the people who in rain or cold pick up cans that weigh 50 pounds,” he said. “This is one of the hardest jobs to do.”
However, Commissioner Bill Partington pointed out that Waste Management Inc., as a national company, reported high profits the last few years and they would need to show him “how they are hurting.”