City residents may see rise in trash, recycling fees
Many cities in the Portland metro area and the United States are grappling with China's decision to significantly decrease imports of scrap and waste materials.
Relatedly, the costs of garbage collection are likely to jump for Wilsonville citizens.
The City of Wilsonville is planning to change its Solid Waste Management and Collection Franchise Agreement with Republic Services and is considering changing the way in which it increases rates, spiking its franchise fee and adding a recycling surcharge, among other changes.
"The situation with China and not accepting nearly as much recycled materials has significantly impacted Oregon," Wilsonville Assistant City Attorney Amanda Guile-Hinman said at the council's April 16 work session.
The City plans to hold a public hearing for the proposal at the May 7 City Council meeting. If passed, the changes to the agreement are expected to go into effect July 1.
First, rather than Wilsonville City Council deciding whether to change rates, the newfound agreement would allow rates to be changed via a standard inflation index and would be determined in part based on Republic Services' profitability.
Wilsonville Public Affairs Director Mark Ottenad said the trajectory of price increases under the standard inflation index would be similar to the increases under the current system but that the increases would occur more frequently — every year rather than approximately every two years under the current system.
"We found that the inflation rate seemed to match the overall rate of increases (under the current system)," Ottenad said.
Guile-Hinman said Tigard, Sherwood, McMinnville, Corvallis, West Linn and Ashland have all moved to indexing. The City is also contemplating reviewing Republic Services' operation within the next year and could adjust rate calculations based on that review.
The recycling surcharge would be a flat fee for residents and Guile-Hinman said it could be similar to the surcharges implemented by Clackamas and Washington counties, which are replace with $2.50 and $2, respectively, for residential property.
"The surcharge is a result of the sorting facilities having to take more time to sort so they're charging a lot more and they also have to send it down to other places, which is more expensive than sending it to China," Guile-Hinman said.
Also, City staff recommended increasing the City's franchise fee from 3 percent to 5 percent and also said the City could wait to implement the franchise fee increase if the new agreement results in increased rates by July 1.
"Adding a franchise fee, which is going to impact customers' bills, it might not be the best idea to do that at the same time rates increase. So right now within the franchise agreement we have it to start at the next fiscal year but we could definitely offset it so it's not coinciding with rate increases," Guile-Hinman said.
Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp expressed support for this idea at the work session.
"I think we're not going to want to roll it all at once and depending on the magnitude of any individual component we're going to want to space them out so it's not an 'all the sudden' kind of deal. It can't all start on July 1," he said.