ASHTON – Residents may see their garbage rates increase this year should the city council agree to do so following a public hearing scheduled for May.
The increase would be due to the city's garbage contractor, PSI Environmental Services, having to pay more in landfill cost.
It’s expected the new rate to be $22.51, a $1.37 increase over the current garbage rate of $21.14. That rate was established in November when it was increased from $19.71.
The suggestion to raise rates comes following a city council meeting on March 12 where PSI official Jeremy Harris spoke. There he told the council about rate increases PSI has recently experienced for dumping garbage at Fremont, Madison and Bonneville County’s landfills.
“Let’s talk some trash,” Harris joked.
Harris said that the Madison County Landfill recently increased dumping fees by $20 a ton.
“I got a phone call from Madison County that they were going to raise (rates) from $60 a ton to $80 a ton,” he said.
At one point, PSI divided Ashton's trash up by taking some of the garbage to the Fremont County Landfill while another portion was taken to the Bonneville Landfill that once charged $45 but later increased to $60. The remainder was taken to the Madison County Landfill.
“These counties are saying that they don’t want other counties trash, and the way to deter it is to match the price (of other landfills),” he said.
Harris said that the increase isn’t about making a profit.
“It’s what we call a ‘pass through of disposable trash.’ It’s an expensive process to get rid of trash,” he said. “We’re trying to find the best option for citizens to keep the cost down.”
Before the city can raise its rates, it’s first required to hold a public hearing. With concerns over COVID-19, it’s not known if the city will hold a traditional meeting at city hall in May or if it will stream the meeting via the web.
Whether the city holds a traditional public hearing all depends on COVID-19, City Clerk Cathy Stegelmeier said.
“If we’re able to just have it, we’ll just have it,” she said.
Should there still be concerns over the virus in May, the city is considering broadcasting the public hearing via Zoom, a video conferencing service. The service would allow Ashton residents to watch the public hearing from home and log on to give comment. Sugar City currently relies on Zoom for its meetings.
Stegelmeier wasn’t sure if the city’s internet system was compatible with the Zoom service.
“I don’t think we have the capability to do that. We don’t have the speeds. We will have to figure out how to do that. We have to start from somewhere,” she said.
Should the city be required to broadcast its May public meeting via Zoom, residents without internet access may instead conference call the city or send in written statements concerning the garbage rate increase.
About two years ago, the Fremont County Commissioners increased the county dump fees from no charge to $80 a ton. This was done to raise $2.5 million to cover the landfill's municipal cell - where household items are dumped. The county did so under orders from the Department of Environmental Quality and the Environment Protection Agency that detected water pollution coming from the municipal cell – where a lot of household items were left – and ordered the county to shutter it.
The Ashton City Council will meet again at 7 p.m., April 11 where it hopes to broadcast the meeting via Zoom.
For more information on the proposed garbage rate increase and upcoming public hearing call the city at 208-652-3987.