City of Trail garbage fees pile up

With a marked increase in garbage hauled away each week, Trail taxpayers can expect to pay more for their utility service this year.

With a marked increase in the tonnes of garbage the city hauls to the dump each week, Trail taxpayers can expect to pay more for their utility service this year.

A $4 hike in the garbage collection rate, which increases the fee to $114 this year, may seem negligible, but the price of the service continues to grow as does the cost to unload the bags of refuse at the local landfill.

Although the city negotiated a three-year extension to its garbage collection contract to keep costs stable, the most significant levy associated with the garbage rate is the payment of tipping fees to the regional district, owner and operator of the landfill.

In June 2012, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) increased the rate per tonne to $95 from $80, with the associated 18.75 per cent increase passed along to Trail residents given that garbage rates aren’t subsidized through property taxes.

In 2012, Trail paid $107,500 or 29 per cent of the overall garbage fee to unload trash at the McKelvey Creek regional landfill which increased to $127,500 or 32 per cent of the user fee this year.

“Looking at the overall garbage there is an upward trend being experienced,” explained David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer.

Looking ahead, he suggested council review the service and consider a user pay system that could reduce garbage and increase recycling and diversion of waste in the landfill; or consider reducing pickup from two bags weekly to one per household.

“Many communities provide a baseline service given that homes have found ways to reduce the amount they put out at the curb,” said Perehudoff. “It is important for people to take advantage of recycling where possible to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.”

Outlying communities, with the exception of Salmo, incorporate the user pay system, which has residents buying tags (stickers) that must be affixed to each bag of garbage hauled to the curb weekly, but no limit on the number of bags.

If the price to dispose of household refuse affects the pocketbook, there is evidence that people become more inclined to recycle and find other ways to divert household waste, such as compost, according to the RDKB’s director of environmental services.

Alan Stanley explained there is anecdotal evidence that when a household has to cough up money for more than one bag each week, a reduction in waste usually follows.

“Pretty much everyone figures out a way to get all their garbage in one bag when that is the case,” he said. And its not really a huge miracle. It usually involves pulling the recyclable material out and putting it in the blue box.”

In addition to a hike in garbage fees, Trail council approved water and sewer increases that add up to a total $18.60 increment for 2014.

The total utility bill for a Trail residence will increase to $687.70 for the year, a rise from $669.10 in 2013, which works out to a monthly increase of $1.55. However, paying the household’s utility invoice prior to the end of February gives the benefit of an early payment discount of $51 or 7.4 per cent.