The Edmond Sun

Local News

March 26, 2014

City considers solid waste rate increase

EDMOND — An analysis of City of Edmond solid waste fees was presented to the City Council this week with a recommendation to raise the residential fees by $1 to keep up with expenses. Commercial rates need to be adjusted by 30 percent, officials said.

Expenses have climbed dramatically and base solid waste rates have remained steady for past five years, said Bob Masterson, maintenance and solid waste superintendent.

According to the Public Works Department:

• Services are priced too low to be profitable. They are about 35 percent lower than comparable cities and 58 percent lower than outside vendors.

• There is not enough volume to become profitable. It would require a 50 percent increase to break even.

The fleet of trucks used to dispose of solid waste is aging, Masterson said. In many cases, the la

st two years of a truck’s service will consume as much as 30 percent of the cost of a new truck, he said.

“So we can’t keep extending the life that far without running into some problems,” Masterson said.

Trucks are typically ordered every seven years with 10-11 months to receive them. The expansion of Edmond as more people move here is causing the trucks to wear more quickly, he said.

“On top of the counts climbing up so quick, they are designed for between 900 to 1,100 carts per day,” Masterson said.

Present cart counts are as high as 1,589 per route and average of 1,200 per route. Many customers have more than one cart, which is another cycle to consider for increased wear.

“On a typical day we can exceed what the truck was designed for by as much as 40 percent,” Masterson continued.

The cost of a new truck or parts for a truck has increased by 10-15 percent. An additional truck needs to be purchased along with equipment for developing new routes, he said. Trash service days for customers would remain the same, he added.

A campaign to educate the public is needed increase the logistical efficiency of trash removal, Masterson said. A driver loses at least 2.2 hours of daily productivity due to cars being parked in the way of carts being accessed properly.

“On one route we counted 85 cars parked directly in front of the carts,” he noted.

Trash is not being securely placed within the carts, causing drivers to have to manually pick up litter.

“The carts are supposed to be placed within a foot of the curb,” Masterson said. “If we move those out to 4 feet away from the curb, on just 20 percent of a route, it adds an hour and 10 minutes to the day.”

To return to a cart costs the city $20 in man hours and diesel cost when something is missed that has blown out of a cart, he said. Regulations call for customers to bag their trash, which is not always done, or not done properly

“We have had refrigerators with blue bags taped to them, washers and dryers with blue bags taped to them,” Masterson said. “In one case we even had a car with a blue bag taped on it. I had to call the guy back and tell him, ‘I can’t take your car.’”

Mayor Charles Lamb said back strains can occur when drivers have too many blue bags on a route to pick up.

The cost for a current 8-yard container is $77; a 6-yard container, $66; and $55 per 4-yard container.

Rates still would be lower than comparable cities by increasing rates by 30 percent, said Casey Moore, city spokesperson.

Additionally, the city is losing money on its charges for commercial container sharing. Each tenant of a trash bin behind a strip mall pays a percentage of the service cost.

“Right now when it’s half empty, when there’s two people that are not renting and places are open, we’re not making any revenue on those shares of the containers,” he said. “So we’re servicing the container for 50 percent of the normal cost.”

Some cities have begun charging the landlords instead of the tenants. Those cities that continue to allow a diminished shared practice of containers are having to increase their software and monitor the use on a daily basis to pro-rate correctly, he said. | 341-2121

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