Trash fee drops $1

Published 9:16 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Suffolk City Council voted Wednesday to reduce the new refuse fee to $17.50 monthly from the former rate of $18.50.

The change came as a result of a lower negotiated rate for the curbside recycling portion of the cost than officials anticipated.

The new fee was instituted to pay for refuse collection, bulk refuse, curbside recycling, maintenance at the Hosier Road landfill and planning for the eventual demise of the Southeastern Public Service Authority.

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Previously, the costs for those services were covered from general tax collections.

“I see the trash fee as something that had to happen,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said Wednesday, acknowledging that nobody likes to pay more money.

In addition to the total reduction, the fee for July and August was lowered even more, to $13.50, because TFC Recycling will not be ready to provide its service citywide until September. It will pick up recycling for its current 1,600 subscription-based customers at no cost for those two months, Public Works director Eric Nielsen said.

As a result, the December real estate tax bill for residences will include a $97 charge for the new fee. The June bill and all future bills will include a $105 charge.

Councilmen Michael Duman and Jeffrey Gardy voted against the reduction, saying they were opposed to such a high fee in the first place.

“I’m obviously in favor of reducing the fees,” Duman said, adding he still believes they could be much lower. “I’m still somewhat chagrined that an RFP was not put out.”

The city never issued a request for proposals to provide the recycling service because TFC already had a contract to provide the subscription-based service with an option to go citywide, officials said in June.

Gardy added that he wants city officials to explore opportunities to bring the amount down even further, “to hopefully $10 or $12,” he said. He added he does believe the fee is necessary.

“I think it’s something we need to do for the future,” he said. “But I’d also like to get that number a little bit lower.”

Businesses and apartment complexes are not affected by the changes, Nielsen added. They already pay to have their trash picked up by private haulers.