VALPARAISO – High fuel costs, a growing population, volatile recycling market and rising landfill fees are driving a proposal to increase rates for garbage collection in Valparaiso.
At a meeting Monday evening, the executive director of Municipal Services and Public Works, Steve Poulos, made a presentation explaining the proposed increase. If approved, rates would increase from $12 per month to $19.50 beginning with October 2022 bills, which are payable in November.
Poulos said Valparaiso’s monthly fees, which have not been updated since 2012, are the lowest in the region. After looking at seven communities in northwest Indiana, the average was determined to be $21.97.
The city worked with consultancy Baker Tilly to determine a reasonable increase.
Baker Tilly found that — between operational costs, which are approximately $1.8 million per year; purchase and maintain the city’s fleet of trucks, which cost approximately $570,000 per year; and maintenance of roads frequently used by garbage trucks, which costs about $94,000 – Valparaiso’s garbage collection and recycling program requires about $2.5 million a year. With a current rate of $12, the city only brings in about $1.4 million.
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To make up the difference, Poulos said the city should start charging $21.70 per month. However, the municipal services department has also brought in strategic business services 1 to analyze ongoing operations. Strategy 1 made several suggestions to the city, including reducing the collection of recyclables from once a week to every two weeks.
Using advice from Strategic 1, Poulos said he believed the city would be able to reduce the annual cost of garbage collection by about $250,000, which enabled the committee to arrive at the proposed rate. $19.50 per month.
Every year, as the city grows, “the cost of doing business increases,” Poulos said. The city’s three-year contract with the landfill is up for renewal in October. Due to increased transportation costs, Poulos said he was “advised” that the contract would likely increase by $30,000 to $50,000.
“Frankly, there’s never a good time to raise fares,” Poulos said, adding that the proposed increase would help the city “support” current services.
The increase will be discussed again at the city council meeting on September 12.
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