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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Recycle cans are lined up next to regular trash cans line Maisons Drive in Little Rock in this 2012 file photo.

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


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Archived Comments

    August 14, 2019 at 6:17 a.m.

    Right - like there is any chance they won't raise the rates. They've already shown that they'll raise rates for reduced service for the recycle program. Might as well go up on garbage..
    Yes it has been a long time. Of course, there has been a 1% tax increase since then, but don't let that deter more raises.

  • BigRed501
    August 14, 2019 at 6:48 a.m.

    Government is the only entity that I know where you can do a crappy job and still get a raise!

    My trash gets missed at least once a month and they are going to want more money...

    It's such a scam that they hire a "consultant" to make the recommendation but all they are doing are saying what the city wants and gets paid a ridiculous amount of money to do so...

    I wonder when Emperor Scott is going to ask for a sales tax increase using the argument that North Little Rock's sales tax is higher so they need to increase Little Rock's

  • HenryP
    August 14, 2019 at 7:49 a.m.

    I never thought I would miss Stodola.....

  • itryed
    August 14, 2019 at 12:15 p.m.

    I never thought I’d miss George Bush

  • NoUserName
    August 14, 2019 at 6:43 p.m.

    Few things going on. As I recall, when the LR went to single stream, the city covered the additional cost ($1-2) to do so. I think the rate when up with the WM renegotiation this spring (been a while since I looked at a bill) but I don't know if it covered the entire gap.
    $22 to $29 is a huge jump. Though I expect it would be phased in. Still...
    With regards to missed pickups, the city is having a hard time keeping up due to the expansion west. The department is supposed to be proposing new routes to the board.
    Personally, given how mismanaged the city finances are, including the 65% (or so) of budget going to staff which most think is out of whack, I think the city should tighten its belt BEFORE asking for ANY increases.

  • DANNY46
    August 14, 2019 at 7:49 p.m.

    Well Little Rock you elected a Tax&Spend Liberal and this is what you get. It will get worse before it gets better. In Levy in N.L.R. we have a 12.5 percent sales tax on a hamburger???

  • purplebouquet
    August 15, 2019 at 10:05 a.m.

    This is collected as part of the UBS bill, right? The water company just started charging about $2/month for generating a customer bill in the first place, so really, our rates have already increased. Different vendor, but part of the overall arrangement.
    We'd all, including our Earth, be better off if we could reduce our trash and hence, our rates. We're encouraged to waste simply by the size of our trashcans and the weekly pickup. I compost and recycle a lot, so there are maybe 4 little plastic bags in my trashcan each week. A forward-thinking leader would stimulate a discussion of how we can change our throw-away mindset.

  • Jfish
    August 15, 2019 at 10:38 a.m.

    You are exactly right purplebouquet but most are too lazy to reduce their waste or fear that it is a vast left wing conspiracy. One of my neighbors actually pays for a second rolling bin which her and the kids dutifully fill up every week. Get used to it folks, drinking water, wastewater treatment and trash pickup rates will likely continue go up at a steep rate since they are directly related to population and demand.