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Fayetteville to consider changing recycling and trash rates

December 16, 2018

Fayetteville to consider changing recycling and trash rates | 190611749_WC-FEA-TRASH-001_ORIG_t800

Source: Stacy Ryburn, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

FAYETTEVILLE - Everyone needs to pitch in to expand recycling service in the city, administrators say.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider adopting recommendations of a study from MSW Consultants on recycling and trash rates. The council hired the firm in February for about $48,000 to look at how rates should be adjusted to accomplish goals outlined in the recycling plan the city adopted a year before.

Rate Impact
The following table shows the annual revenue generated from recycling and trash service in Fayetteville, along with recommended changes:

Service Rate Recommended
Rate
Percentage
Increase
Single-family $4,600,834 $4,832,347 5 percent
Multifamily $1,544,641 $1,515,913 -1.9 percent
Commercial $3,079,898 $3,565,379 15.8 percent
Temporary
containers
$58,900 $61,845 5 percent
Dropbox $1,267,628 $1,436,785 13.3 percent
Scale/tip fees $906,295 $1,085,936 19.8 percent
Total for 2019 $11,458,196 $12,498,206 9.1 percent

Source: City of Fayetteville

Rate increases
Fayetteville has applied the federal consumer price index to recycling and trash rates for several years. The following breakdown shows the monthly rate increases over time. The rates stayed the same from 2007 to 2011.

Year 32 gallon 64 gallon 96 gallon Multifamily/unit Percentage
increase
2011 $8.75 $13.35 $18.96 $9.25 N/A
2012 $9.07 $13.85 $19.66 $9.25 3.7 percent
2013 $9.21 $14.06 $19.96 $9.25 1.6 percent
2014 $9.21 $14.06 $19.96 $9.25 same
2015 $9.37 $14.30 $20.31 $9.41 1.7 percent
2016 $9.37 $14.30 $20.31 $9.41 same
2017 $9.47 $14.46 $20.52 $9.51 1.1 percent
2018 $9.68 $14.78 $20.98 $9.72 2.2 percent

Source: Fayetteville Sustainability Department

Overall, the consultants recommend an overall one-time 9 percent rate increase for both services next year. Otherwise, about $4 million of operating reserve for the Recycling and Trash Division could deplete in two years, according to the study.

Increasing the rates will keep a healthy amount in reserve through 2023. After that, another rate study would likely be needed because of anticipated costs in facility upkeep and equipment and vehicles, according to the consultants.

The council adopted the overall recycling plan in February 2017. The study from Kessler Consulting calls for diverting 40 percent of the city's waste from the landfill by 2027, which is double the amount it had been for about a decade. It includes several strategies to achieve that goal, including expanding recycling service to multifamily complexes, construction and demolition collection, food waste composting and generally making recycling available where it hadn't been before.

The MSW study recommends slight increases in the recycling and trash rate for single-family homes, keeping the rate flat for multifamily and a larger increase for commercial services. Other rate prices for drop-box collection, temporary containers and at transfer stations for private garbage haulers also will go up.

The most recent time the city had a comprehensive study to determine recycling and trash rates was 1993. That's not to say rates haven't gone up since then; the city applies a consumer price index increase to residential collection, which has been about 1 percent to 3 percent annually.

The outdated study, a rapidly growing population and expansion of the city's recycling efforts all led to the need to adjust rates, Sustainability Director Peter Nierengarten said. Rates haven't reflected the cost of operating services. For instance, residential rates have essentially subsidized commercial pickup, the consultants found.

The idea is to have each type of service stand on its own.

"We're not going to go 25 years again before doing this," Nierengarten said.

By adjusting rates, the city could begin making curbside recycling available at apartment complexes of 24 units or fewer and putting in separated recycling receptacles, known as battle stations, at larger complexes. Commercial cardboard and paper recycling would come at a discount, but the ongoing pilot programs for food waste composting and glass recycling would become standard service. Also, garbage haulers from outside the city would be charged a little more than in-city haulers at the transfer station.

Part of the idea was to minimize shocks, particularly to residents, lead consultant John Culbertson told the City Council's Water, Sewer and Solid Waste Committee last month.

For instance, the $9.68 per month rate for the smallest container available should cost $17.32 to provide the service, according to the consultants. However, the recommended rate for that size of a container is $10.16. Raising the rates for other types of services will cover the gap, Nierengarten said.

The 64-gallon container rate would go from $14.78 per month to $15.52, and the 96-gallon container rate would go from $20.98 to $22.03 monthly.

Regardless if a multifamily property has recycling, the monthly $9.72 rate per apartment would stay the same. The intention is to entice property owners to adopt recycling because it would cost the same to include it, Nierengarten said.

Commercial rates vary depending on the size of the container and how many times weekly it gets picked up. The lowest rate is $32.76 monthly. The highest is $786.24.

The consultants proposed changing the range to $80.23 at the lowest to $840.12 at the highest. The change is more dramatic the lower the rate.

Other cities in Northwest Arkansas handle recycling and trash rates differently. Springdale contracts with Waste Management for its services. Residential curbside recycling and trash is $15.58 monthly for a 96-gallon trash container. The city offers commercial garbage pickup for one to three carts ranging from $16.35 to $44 monthly, but anything larger than that is open to the free market.

Rogers contracts with Inland Waste Solutions. This combined residential recycling and trash service is $15.15 monthly.

Bentonville's residential pickup service is $13.89 monthly. Small commercial trash and recycling is $17.39 for each service. Bentonville charges a business by the size of its trash or cardboard container, at $4.87 per cubic yard and $4.16 per cubic yard, respectively.

Fayetteville administrators hired MSW Consultants to come up with a five-year plan. In addition to the new rates for Fayetteville, they recommended applying the consumer price index to all services, not just residential. However, the city should wait to apply that adjustment in three years, the study suggests. After then, the council would decide each year if it wants to apply the increase.

Council member Sarah Marsh, who serves on the Water, Sewer and Solid Waste Committee, said she's glad to see recycling in the city expanded and food waste composting included in the study. She supported the new rate structure.

"The new proposal strikes a good balance between keeping rates low, encouraging waste reduction and recycling and improving the level of service for many of our customers," Marsh said.

The rate study is about providing more equitable services to households other than single-family, Nierengarten said. To do that, rates need to reflect the cost of services, he said.

"If you care about the planet and you care about waste diversion -- not sticking materials that could be reused and recycled in the landfill -- then this is the citywide solution to help pull us in the same direction," Nierengarten said.