Rates for residential garbage disposal are set to increase this year. The question is how much.
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly will consider a resolution at its meeting Thursday establishing the fees charged for borough services. Among other minor changes is a modest increase of $1.02 per month for all sizes of roll carts and residential dumpster service.
The increased fee is required by the contract agreement the borough has with Alaska Waste and is based on increases in the Anchorage consumer price index (CPI) and increased fuel costs.
On top of these contractually obligated fee increases, the assembly is considering adjusting the borough’s disposal rate based on the Anchorage CPI from $150 per ton to $153.79 per ton. This would equate to about another $0.50 per month fee increase on the largest roll carts and residential dumpsters. The disposal increase would be less for smaller roll carts.
Introducing the disposal rate increase to the assembly Thursday, borough director of engineering and facilities Woody Koning said the disposal increase was a policy choice between small yearly increases or a larger increase when the enterprise fund can no longer stretch to cover costs.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve been stuck with that problem of not raising the fee and using fund balance and actually using other funds that are available … in order to not raise the fee,” Koning said. “You end up with a $4 bump that’s pretty difficult to take after a few years.”
Borough manager Rick Gifford said landfill costs are rising, and the community will eventually need to pay for the lateral expansion of the landfill, too, either internally or by borrowing money.
Assembly member Judy Fulp said the borough’s side of the fee increase was ill-timed while budget discussions continue that may lead to a property tax increase and with other contentious issues like roll cart expansion outside city limits yet to be settled.
“This isn’t much money, but I can tell you from what I’m hearing around town this is going to make people so mad that we better just get ready to get off the assembly,” Fulp said. “We haven’t even decided on the roll cart thing yet. This will anger people tremendously.”
But other assembly members argued that smaller increases instead of a large one every few years would be better for residents to anticipate and plan for.
“I’d rather see it go up a tiny bit at a time,” assembly member Carol Austerman said.
“My reasoning for being OK for raising it … is because it’s for hard costs that we are incurring,” Austerman said. “If you don’t start charging for it now … you are going to have to charge for it at some time.”
Assembly member Louise Stutes spoke against the disposal rate increase.
“This garbage collection contract is barely a year old,” she said. “People haven’t even come to terms with it. They’ve had a big increase from what they were paying before, and to start jacking it up and telling them we are going to be jacking you up every year — no way, I’m voting against that."
The assembly has a full agenda for its next regular meeting on Thursday, with property and severance tax changes up for a vote in addition to the resolution establishing fees. The assembly has called a special meeting June 9, if needed, to continue working on their budget.
Mirror writer Wes Hanna can be reached via email at email@example.com.