Rate increases

Managing Editor
The cost of city trash bags is likely to increase on Jan. 1.
The fee on city utility bills is likely to increase on Jan. 1.
The extra money generated from the trash bags and the fee would be used to purchase new refuse and recycling trucks, which Wapakoneta city administrators say are needed, and to establish a vehicle replacement strategy.
“It came to our attention that unlike other city departments we do not currently have truck replacement funds set up within the Refuse Department,” Wapakoneta Councilor-at-large and Utilities Committee Chair Tom Finkelmeier Jr. said after Monday’s meeting. “While the recycling trucks are relatively new, some of our refuse vehicles are beginning to show their wear, thus we feel it is necessary to raise additional revenue by increasing refuse fees and the bag costs to start laying money aside for future refuse and recycling truck purchases.”
Wapakoneta Mayor Rodney Metz said he understands the decision by council likely will not be a popular one, but Safety-Service Director Bill Rains and Public Works Superintendent Meril Simpson have evaluated the revenue and costs and no money exists to replace the trucks.
“We hate to raise the rates, but we have to cover our costs,” said Metz, who anticipates he will receive a number of telephone calls and complaints on the matter. “There is no other way around it. The department has to be self-sufficient. We need to generate more revenue for the department — our fuel costs have gone up, our truck maintenance costs have increased, all our expenses have increased.”
Wapakoneta City Council Utilities Committee members unanimously approved legislation be written to increase the cost of city garbage by 25 cents, or $1.50 per bag from $1.25, and to raise the resident refuse fee per month to $9 from $8.50. The smaller black garbage bags would increase to $1 from 75 cents.
The legislation will stipulate commercial refuse rates increase to $13 from $12.50 and non-resident pick-up will increase to $12 from $11. The commercial rate is to always be $3 more than residential.
The legislation also stipulates refuse fee increases of 50 cents every Jan. 1 starting in 2014.
The last increase on garbage bags came in 2007. The last increase on fees was in 2009.
Utilities Committee members discussed increasing fees by 85 cents in 2011, but former Councilor-at-large Wilbur Wells objected and wanted a lower rate. A recommendation was never made to council.
Rains estimated the refuse bag increase is expected to generate an additional $48,000 per year and the fee increase should generate approximately $24,000 more each year.
Rains estimated a new refuse truck would cost between $100,000 and $150,000, with an expected life usage of five to seven years, and a new recycling truck approximately $100,000.
Rains said he would like to be able to sell the trucks and use the money on a down payment on the next vehicle instead of getting far less for the vehicle as scrap metal.
Finkelmeier said he understood city residents and refuse customers will not like the cost increases.
“It is our hope that the 25 cents per bag will not be seen as an unreasonable increase and as always our recommendation is to recycle as much as possible,” Finkelmeier said. “Citizens should remember while you pay per bag for refuse, all recyclables are picked up for free.
“I believe people understand enterprise funds for fresh water, refuse and electric must break even,” the councilor said. “We are not a for-profit business, but that doesn’t mean we should or can operate at a fiscal deficit. It is our duty that these services pay for themselves, otherwise they will begin to drain our limited general fund revenue and that cannot be allowed.”