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City Council rejects rate increases

Garbage fees to rise less than half of what was requested by Recology
 Posted: 2:00 AM October 05, 2012

The Ashland City Council nixed minor fee increases on Tuesday night after spending much of the year making significant increases in other rates.

The council rejected a 5 percent transportation utility fee increase that would have cost a single-family household another 40 cents per month.

Councilors also turned down a 10 percent storm drain system fee increase that would have cost that household an extra 42 cents per month.

In January, garbage rates went up by an average of 11.2 percent, less than the 23.3 percent hike Recology Ashland Sanitary Service had asked councilors to approve.

Recology has a franchise agreement with the city government to provide garbage and recycling services in town.

A typical homeowner now pays about $1.25 extra per month, but businesses that use garbage bins saw monthly increases of up to $143.

In May, the City Council approved water and sewer bill increases that are costing a typical household another $5.02 each month.

"I'm weary of all the fees we're putting on citizens," said Councilor Carol Voisin, who voted against the storm drain and transportation fee increases on Tuesday.

Councilor Greg Lemhouse, who also voted against the increases, said city officials need to look at how they can trim expenses elsewhere to avoid raising rates on residents.

But Councilor Mike Morris, who voted in favor, said delaying the increases will lead to hikes later.

"I don't really like to increase fees, but I think the increases will be greater in the future if we don't," he said.

The city of Ashland has $14.9 million in unfunded transportation projects and $3.3 million in unfunded storm drain system projects on its capital improvements list.

Plans call for spending $30.5 million on maintenance and upgrades for the water system, and $10.8 million for maintenance and upgrades of the sewer system.

Water and sewer rates are projected to double over the next decade.

A study is underway about Recology Ashland Sanitary Service's rates and operations.

Recology officials said the 11.2 percent average garbage rate increase authorized by the City Council allows the company only to break even. They hope for an additional rate increase in 2013.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.


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