Athens City Council’s City and Safety Services Committee discussed devising a new waste management services contract, which could implement a 37% increase in Athens residents’ trash service rates this July.
Athens currently has a contract with Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers Inc., or AHRC, which expires on June 30. Council has been working to sign a new contract, but rejected the first round of bids received from AHRC and rival provider Rumpke, which owns the landfill Athens uses.
The first round of bids was rejected because neither AHRC nor Rumpke filled out all parts of the bid application form Council required applicants to complete. AHRC’s proposed replacement offer of $171,000 per month would stick Athens residents with a 37% increase in trash service rates starting July 1, which could amount to a $360 increase in yearly trash service fees for some Athens residents.
The increased rate would be for six months while a new contract is negotiated, the change in timing serving to put the contract in line with Athens’ fiscal year, which starts on Jan. 1, rather than the state of Ohio’s fiscal year, which starts July 1.
Service Safety Director Andy Stone said funding for trash service rates don’t have a large unappropriated balance like most other city fees, which also explains why the rate increase is so substantial.
“It’s really just set to have just enough money to be able to pay for that service and so, any increase in the contract cost require a subsequent increase in the rates utility customers pay,” Stone said.
Councilmember Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, said he found the proposed rate increase unreasonable.
“I don’t know how any business in their right mind could ask for this crap,” Swank said. “We should have never thrown out those two bids, but we folded.”
Swank also lamented Council’s rejection of the first round of bids, and he said further deliberation about a contract only delays the necessary decision.
“All this does is kick the inevitable down the road where someone is going to have to make a hard decision of what color trucks drive up and down the city streets of Athens picking up our trash,” Swank said.
Although there is no guarantee that rates will go down after the initial six-month period of the proposed contract, Councilmember Sarah Grace, D-At Large, suggested subsidizing the garbage funds from the city’s general fund to decrease the possible service rates Athens residents would pay.
While plans remain unclear, Stone requested Council pass legislation for an emergency vote on the contract. Legislation concerning the contract will be brought to Council’s floor next Monday.