Let’s talk trash.
If you live in Akron, you may soon pay more to get rid of it.
City Council is considering legislation that would raise monthly trash rates.
Residents who recycle would see their bills climb $1.50 to $19, an 8.5 percent increase. Customers who don’t recycle would see a $2 increase to $21.50, a 10.2 percent jump.
Seniors eligible for the Homestead Exemption which is for those over 65, regardless of income, would pay $10.80 if they recycle or $12.80 if they don’t.
Council members discussed the proposed increases Monday and are expected to vote on them next week. The rate hike would begin in July, with residents seeing the increase in their August sewer/trash bills.
Council President Marco Sommerville is concerned about the rate hike for seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes, and wants the administration to revisit these proposed increases in the next week.
“We need to make sure we have the least impact on them as possible,” he said. “With the others, there might not be as much flexibility.”
Council last approved a rate bump in 2008, with a 50-cent increase.
The latest rate hike would generate about $850,000 a year for the city.
Public Service Director Rick Merolla said the money would be used to help cover a $1.8 million deficit in a fund created to pay for the closing of the Hardy Road landfill and to lease new trash collection equipment, replacing outdated equipment over the next five years.
State Auditor Dave Yost, who put Akron on fiscal caution after its 2010 audit, ordered the city to eliminate fund deficits.
Finance Director Diane Miller-Dawson said increasing trash rates was included in the plan Akron gave Yost for addressing the concerns he raised about the city’s budget practices. The city has pledged to get rid of negative fund balances by the end of next year.
Merolla said eliminating the Hardy Road deficit is expected to take two years.
“Our priority will be the deficit,” he said. “Second will be equipment.”
Merolla said Akron’s current trash-collection equipment is seven years old and was expected to last about five years. He said the city will lease two or three new pieces of equipment a year over the next five years, “cannibalizing” the outdated equipment for parts.
Akron contracts with Inland Services for trash pickup in about 20 percent of the city, but the city handles the rest.
Merolla said automated trash service — machines that pick up and dump trash containers — has saved the city money by decreasing worker compensation claims for injuries. Akron’s workers’ comp costs went from a high of $390,000 in claims in 2003 to $4,000 paid through the first six months of 2011, the latest data available from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.