County garbage rates on the rise

Inflation forces local company to increase charges for pick-up

Residents living in the outlying areas of the county will see a small hike in their garbage bill at the end of January.

The same increase of about 1.51 percent may also soon be charged to customers living within the city limits.

On Monday the Board of Commissioners granted the rate change for the 4,900 clients served by Hood River Garbage Service, owned by Waste Connections, Inc.

The added fee will bring the price of one weekly can picked up at the curb from $12.50 to 12.68 per month. Every other week collections of one can will rise slightly from $10 to $10.14.

Erwin Swetnam, manager of the local company, said the rate adjustment was necessary to offset cost of living expenses. He plans to approach the City Council on Monday to ask for the same increase.

The last garbage rate change was in the fall of 2001 after Waste Connections took ownership. At that time, the cost for services rose 40 percent within the county and 21 percent for customers within the city limits. Those fees included a $1 recycling charge whether or not customers utilized the service.

At that time David Skakel, the county’s recycling coordinator, said that local residents were still paying below the state average for garbage collection. He said the neighboring cities of Mosier and The Dalles charge $13.58 monthly for the same service.

To encourage recycling, the discount throughout the county for additional cans was eliminated and delivery of home use recycling containers was expanded outside the city limits. The list of qualifying items was also lengthened to include not only newspapers but plastic bottles and jugs, paper milk cartons and drink boxes, three colors of glass, mixed waste paper, tin cans, aluminum and cardboard.

Since that time, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released figures showing that the recycling rate in Hood River County has jumped by more than six percent, from 18 to 24.3 percent.

According to the DEQ, that places the county just shy of the 25 percent solid waste recovery rate established by the 1991 Recycling Act.

The state’s recycling goals for each county are determined by population and Hood River County’s goal was originally supposed to be met by 1995 but is expected to fulfill that expectation with 2002 recovery rates.

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