Athens City Council discussed entering into a new solid waste contract with Athens Hocking Recycling and Refuse Monday, which could add composting services.

That contract will cost about $1.5 million with an option to add curbside composting for an additional $139,000.

Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, said entering into that contract would increase rates for solid waste collection. To pay for the new contract, the cost of having one container of trash would increase from $10 to $13, but Crowl recommended an increase from $10 to $16 so curbside composting could be included.

“I have backyard composting … my family plans on continuing to do that. But, obviously I would be paying the fee for the curbside compost pickup, which I will not be utilizing, and I support it because there are a number of residents in the city who don’t have the option of backyard composting,” Crowl said.

Some members of council expressed concern about increasing waste management rates for residents of Athens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s just a horrible time to have this contract come up for renewal and have these increases facing us as a community,” Councilwoman Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, said.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson also encouraged students who will be moving out in May to take as many of their belongings with them as they can, as well as to bring their own cleaning supplies. The city will be deploying dumpsters in densely populated areas for students to dispose of their waste.

Patterson also asked permanent Athens residents to consider purchasing groceries and necessities prior to May 1 and to exercise extra caution by staying at home during move-out.