• 68°

Refuse costs set for increase

Increased disposal costs at the regional landfill as well as higher recycling costs are driving a proposed refuse fee increase for the more than 30,000 city households who receive trash and recycling services.

City Manager Patrick Roberts has proposed a $3.95 per month rate increase to the refuse fee from $21.30 to $25.25. About 30,680 city households receive weekly trash service, up to 12 bulk trash collections per year, and biweekly recycling service, with residents paying their refuse fee every six months when they receive their real estate tax bill.

Meanwhile, Chesapeake-based Tidewater Fibre Corporation Recycling has proposed an increase in the monthly fee it collects from $3.10 under the previous five-year contract, to $4.95 under a new five-year contract that would begin July 1.

Company owner Michael Benedetto said in January that it was asking for an increase in the fee it collects to something “less than $5.”

Roberts’ proposed budget calls for the refuse fund budget to increase by 13 percent — from about $9.1 million to $10.3 million.

“The budget, and the fees with it, assume that we will enter a five-year commitment with TFC to continue that service at the rate they’ve proposed to us,” Roberts said.

Since October, the city has extended its contract with TFC three times. Under the terms of the third extension, the company is still collecting $3.10 per household per month as well as a $110 per ton surcharge per month through the end of June. The surcharge means a cost to the city of between $44,000 and $60,500 per month based on the city’s average monthly recycling tonnage of between 400 tons and 550 tons per month.

Roberts said a revised request for proposals on recycling services for TFC or another company to provide recycling at a lower cost to targeted areas of the city did not pan out.

“We did not get any viable responses to that,” Roberts said.

That leaves the city with two choices — accept the higher costs for continued recycling service, or if public feedback is overwhelming against the recycling program or the higher costs associated with it, Roberts said, City Council can consider canceling the program.