Council Approves Fee Increase To Cover Costs For Waste Handling And Disposal

Philo Shelton and Angelica Gurule present reasons for the need to increase the County’s refuse recycling and solid waste facility fees during this evening’s Council meeting. Screen Shot/LADP
 
Staff Report

Los Alamos County Council voted 6-0 at this evening’s meeting to adopt Incorporated County of Los Alamos Code Ordinance No. 02-257; an ordinance amending Chapter 32, Section 32-18, refuse recycling and solid waste facility fees. Councilor Rick Reiss was absent.

The proposed fee changes are based upon recommendations from the Environmental Services staff and the Environmental Sustainability Board for County Council’s consideration. The Environmental Services Division needs to adjust rates in order to cover the costs of waste handling and disposal, and proposes financial incentives to enhance the amount of material recycled.

At the completion of the proposed multi-year rate increase, staff is projecting a revenue increase of $450,000 per year.

Since the Eco Station opened in 2006, there has not been a rate increase to residential and commercial collection customers. The Eco Station tipping rates were last adjusted in August of 2013. Rates have been kept low because there were sufficient Environmental Gross Receipts Taxes to help offset rates.
 
With the 29 percent reduction of EGRT since its peak in 2011, and the need to use EGRT to support additional costs related to the landfill closure, staff proposed the rates be increased approximately 10 percent per year over the next two years for both residential and commercial collection customers to better align rates with true cost of service. Staff also is recommending an increase in Eco Station tipping rates by 3 percent per year over the next two years.
 
This tipping fee increase would assist in matching current hauling and tipping contracts that include a 3 percent per year escalation clause associated with the shipping and tipping at the landfill in Rio Rancho.

The proposed rates will enable the Environmental Services Division to continue moving forward on the Council goal to “enhance environmental quality and sustainability.” Los Alamos County offers not only waste collection services, it offers enhanced recycling services, household hazardous waste, and quarterly collection of bulk items and green waste.

Staff also proposed the change to the provision of compost and wood chips due to the Department of Agricultural’s certification and reporting requirements related to the sale of compost.
 
Attachment A below presents the cost of service for both residential and commercial customers, and provides rates from neighboring agencies by way of comparison. Many of our neighboring agencies do not offer complete recycling services which makes it difficult to compare. For trash services only, Los Alamos County’s proposed rates are competitive with neighboring agencies.  
 
Attachment A below also provides a complete overview of all proposed changes to Environmental Services rates and fees. Other proposed changes include a decrease to commercial recycling customers dumpster and roll cart rental fees in order to promote recycling; increasing commercial curbside trash roll cart services; increasing the cost for a new roll cart due to theft or negligence to fully cover the $75 replacement fee; and, eliminating the fee for compost and wood chips to County residents and adding a $3 per cubic yard fee for anyone requiring loading assistance.  
 

Attachment A: