A consulting firm that reviewed Little Rock's fees for garbage pickup recommended Tuesday an increase in rates, effective Jan. 1.
Burns & McDonnell, the firm hired last year by the city to do a study of the fees, recommended to city directors that Little Rock raise its rates for once-a-week, single-cart residential garbage pickup from $22.02 to $28.90 per month, among other suggestions. Current residential and landfill rates are insufficient to fully recover the city's cost of service for fiscal 2019 and beyond, the study concluded.
If approved by city directors, it would be the city's first garbage pickup rate increase since 2004.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said a rate increase would be a significant policy choice that the board will vote on at the appropriate time, but he stopped short of setting a date for the decision.
The mayor said it is important to note the city has not increased rates "in quite some time."
"As we know, with anything, our services do render a cost to the city," Scott said.
City Manager Bruce Moore said the study provided a "very viable recommendation."
He pointed out that raising rates in 2004 allowed the city to add to its array of waste pickup services, which include recycling, separate yard waste, bulky item pickup and neighborhood roll-off, where large containers are dropped off temporarily to help communities with cleanup efforts. It also allowed for special programs such as "A Bridge to Work," which recruits and pays people in need to pick up waste on city streets.
"We've added those programs, and they're all neighborhood-based, without raising rates," said Moore, noting that the city should be proud of having gone so long without a rate increase. "But at some point, not only because of your special programs but just your costs of service ... again when you look at everything we've added, it's just the additional cost of our additional expense that we're facing."
According to the study, Little Rock offers rates competitive with comparable cities, such as Denton, Texas, and Jackson, Miss. The new rates would be in place for 10 years "unless something unforeseen occurs," Public Works Director Jon Honeywell said.
Per the study's recommendations, the city's Class 1 landfill fee -- the cost for household waste, nonhazardous commercial wastes, and nonhazardous industrial wastes -- would increase from $30 to $33 per ton. The gate rate for Class 4 landfill waste -- construction and demolition wastes, appliances and furniture, and other bulky items -- would increase from $25 to $27.50 per ton. The compost fee would increase from $30 to $33 per ton.
The study also recommended limiting bulk collection to one free item per residence per year, with additional service available for $25 per collection.
Although city directors on Tuesday didn't endorse or reject raising rates, they discussed what they would want higher fees to entail.
Several city directors brought up glass recycling, which the city ceased offering in April. The consulting firm didn't include bringing back that service in its proposed rate, but Scott said it was possible the city could develop a new rate that could include curbside glass recycling.
Metro on 08/14/2019
Print Headline: Little Rock explores raising trash fees