County garbage fees to increase

Area citizens will pay more for their garbage pickup next year to offset increasing costs for fuel and operations.

Catawba County Commissioners approved a fee increase from Garbage Disposal Service Monday night that will cost the average homeowner $3.36 more annually, said Barry Edwards, director of utilities and engineering for the county. The increase will also affect commercial dumpsters for unincorporated businesses, hiking their rates anywhere from $1 to $8.46 a month depending on how many dumpsters the business has and how often they are dumped, Edwards said.

In total, the increased fees are being increased about 2 percent.

Edwards added that Republic Waste, the franchise company that collects waste for the county, originally requested a 4-percent increase, but officials were able to negotiate the hike to 2 percent.

“We are all hurting right now, and we wanted to minimize what that increase was,” Edwards said.

The increase is mostly driven by a 22-percent increase in fuel costs for garbage pickup trucks during the last three years, Edwards said, adding that most of the collection trucks get at most 7 miles to the gallon.

“It’s the predominant and driving cost of collecting waste,” Edwards said. “Those types of trucks get less than 8 miles per gallon. Even when they lift garbage and compact it, it is still done with fuel.”

Before the approved fee increase, Edwards said there were no citizen comments about the proposal.

“It’s extremely expensive to travel the rural roads and pick up garbage,” Edwards said. “This was something that was a reasonable request.”

Catawba County Commissioner Randy Isenhower agreed with Edwards that the fee request is justified.

“There had not been a fee increase in some period of time, and their gas prices had gone up 28 percent in the last 12 months,” Isenhower said.

The last garbage collection fee increase came in 2008. Isenhower added that commissioners had to approve the fee increase because there is no clause in their contract that allows for an automatic increase when fuel prices are raised.

He added that all solid waste activities are done based off user fees, not tax money.

“The more you dispose of waste, the more you pay,” Edwards said. “You throw no garbage away, you pay no money.”

Commissioners also approved:

A $15,552 grant for Mt. Sinai Baptist Church for a summer camp with the goal of preventing drug abuse and gang activity.

Taking $1.6 million from the emergency telephone fund and transferring $1.5 million to the Justice Center/Public Safety Center project and $40,000 to the microwave link to Anderson Mountain project to improve radio communications.

A $96,956.97 Community Development Block Grant for an emergency repair fund grant for very low income homeowners.