Wilsonville recycling fees set to be reduced
With recycling provider Republic Services yet again collecting revenues higher than what the city of Wilsonville would like to see, the two sides have agreed to reduce rates — as well as services — for local customers.
While the two entities pegged the ideal rate of return (a measure of profit) at 10%, Republic Services is projected to garner over 18% this year. The company's rate of return has oscillated between 15% and 19% since 2016. This has resulted in income $2.1 million higher than if it had been 10% since 2018.
Therefore, the two sides have proposed to reduce rates for roll cart service (primarily residential) by 4.7% and container service (business), among other reductions. Additionally, the city plans to eliminate the recycling surcharge, which was initially implemented due to concerns about the recycling market after China banned the import of plastics, and was later reduced. However, city consultant Chris Bell said the market has recovered and Wilsonville Public Affairs Director Mark Ottenad also said the use of condensed natural gas has led to cost savings.
"I think our domestic market has stabilized and as demand has increased, so has the price," Bell said.
City staff wrote in the meeting packet that one reason Republic Services has consistently garnered a higher rate of return than optimal is because its customer base has expanded due to population growth and housing development.
"While Republic Services has minimal, incremental expense to add one new household on a street already being serviced, that new household becomes a permanent revenue-generating customer," the report read.
At the same time, the city is also planning to end three programs: bulky waste collection for seniors, commercial battery and fluorescent tube recycling and residential and commercial polystyrene (Styrofoam) recycling. Ottenad said there was low demand for the bulky waste program and the Styrofoam collected was often contaminated, making it expensive to sort. These programs cost $27,000 combined to operate.
Bell said these projects should be scrapped due to high costs and the City Council agreed with this idea as well as the rate reduction.
"I do agree with your proposed services and modifications," Councilor Ben West said. "I'm really concerned with the economic outlook and to see that we have the opportunity to lower rates for consumers is going to go a long way."
Mayor Julie Fitzgerald added: "I think it's incumbent on us to reduce the charges. We are midway through the year and we don't know what the future will hold, but it looks like there's a good chance some of these savings will continue because of the move to condensed natural gas fuel and the success of the domestic recycling market."
The city is poised to finalize these changes at a Nov. 15 meeting.
Parks coming on board
The council also gave the greenlight for the city to enter into an agreement with Taylor Morrison Northwest for the development of a new Villebois park in the 87-unit Claremont subdivision, as well as the completion of another nearby park. The city noted that Claremont is the last remaining single-family neighborhood to be developed in Villebois and the new park will be just over six acres of mostly natural space. The subdivision also contains an unfinished section of another Villebois park.
The agreement stipulates that the developer will receive a credit for about $570,000 in parks system development charges, which are typically paid to maintain infrastructure as growth occurs. The park will then be publicly owned and accessible. The cost of these two projects, which the developer will pay, is slated to total $960,000. The city said the larger size of the park meant that the city also bore responsibility for designing and constructing it.
The council was satisfied with this agreement.
"It's really finishing out the parks system within Villebois, which is a big and exciting thing. I think the parks system within Villebois is one of many aspects that make it such an incredible neighborhood," Council President Kristin Akervall said.
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