City council still mulling increased garbage rates

February 4, 2013

Washington residents could see their garbage and recyclables bill increase by nearly 40 percent after a second bid from Waste Management came back more than $100,000 higher.

At its agenda meeting Monday, city council was mulling over whether to increase trash pickup to $212 or $243 per year depending on the number of paying households – up from $175 annually.

“Some of us here on council don’t want an increase,” said Mayor Brenda Davis. “But I believe at this point, because of the process in which the solid waste (contract) was bid, rebid again and the increase occurred, we’re stuck with it and that’s unfortunate.”

The city’s new three-year contact with Waste Management saw an increase of about $140,000 per year, bringing the annual cost to more than $814,000, she said. Council approved the solid waste portion at a cost of $691,000 at a special meeting Dec. 31 and accepted the recycling bid at a cost of about $123,000 per year Jan. 10. Waste Management was the only bidder.

Davis explained the company’s first bid had contained an increase of $36,000, which the city may have been able to absorb. However, the first bid was tabled after Councilman Matt Staniszewski, who serves as the city’s public works director, asked that an option limiting the weight of garbage trucks be added to protect city streets. Waste Management’s second bid came in at $131,500 higher and the city was told it cost the city about $700,000 more to use lighter trucks. The recycling bid also came back higher after it was rebid in the hopes of adding another collection day.

“Ultimately, if we would’ve went with the first bid, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Davis said.

In 2012, the city collected $694,000 with 3,975 out of 4,552 residents paying their bills in a timely manner. If the city can make more people accountable and reduce the number of bills headed for collections, David said they may be able to cut the rate next year.

Andy McNeil has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2011 as a general assignment reporter. He covers courts and education, and also serves as a photographer and videographer. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University, The Behrend College, with a degree in English; Duquense University with a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate, and Point Park University with a graduate degree in journalism and mass communication.

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