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The Dalles preps for higher garbage rates in January

— Residents of The Dalles will start the new year with an average garbage rate increase of 1.9 percent and could also see their sewer bill climb in January.

On Monday, the city council approved a request by The Dalles Disposal for the rate adjustment in solid waste and recycling services that will go into effect on Jan. 1. The company asked for the increase to cover operational costs, such as health care. In addition, the disposal service is facing a 1.9 percent hike in the pass through household hazardous waste tax levied by the Wasco County Landfill.

With approval of the rate increase, the city will receive a modest increase in the franchise fee collected from the company. That fee is calculated on the amount of gross revenue received by the disposal service.

The new garbage rates will find residents with a 32-gallon can paying $15.87 per month instead of $15.56, with the rate for commercial users going up to $18.95. Families with a 90-gallon rollcart will pay $23.28 in place of $22.80 and the cost rises to $28.63 for commercial ­customers.

The 60-gallon yard debris cart for residents will go up 8 cents, to $7.78 per month.

Last year the disposal service provider was denied a requested rate increase averaging 2.2 percent but allowed to collect between 6 to 28 cents more per month from both residential and commercial customers.

The council will hold a public hearing Monday, Jan. 14, to consider a 3.4 percent hike in the sewer rates, which now run $41.85 per month for residences inside the city limits and $71.15 for people who live within the urban growth boundary.

Monday’s approval of the wastewater treatment plant triggered the hearing to take public comment on the rate increase recommended by Dave Anderson, public works director. The additional revenue is intended to help pay some of the costs associated with a $17 million upgrade of the East First Street plant. The city has banked $3.2 million to cover the first phase of work and Anderson has recommended the increase of 3.4 percent before the inflation rate is projected to be 3.2 percent, so the city will receive 0.2 percent more in revenue.

“By taking action now and building for future improvements we can avoid larger increases later,” said Anderson prior to Monday’s meeting.

On the agenda for Jan. 28 is a public hearing for a potential increase in the system development charge for sanitary service to raise money for plant renovations. The current maximum fee is $1,789 and could go up to $2,572, or somewhere in between, if the council takes action.

City officials paid Carollo Engineers, a firm based in Portland, $395,000 to develop a hydraulic model for an analysis of the ­collection system and to monitor wastewater flows and project growth needs for 20 years. The company estimates the population of The Dalles will increase to 20,479 in 2022 and 23,203 by 2030.

Those figures include residents within the urban growth boundary and are based on the recent growth rate of 1.6 percent that is anticipated to increase slightly to 1.9 percent through 2026 and then drop to 1.3 percent through 2030.

The treatment plant renovations are planned to be completed in three phases to increase capacity, fulfill future regulatory requirements, replace aging equipment, reduce the odor and improve the appearance of the facility.

The project will be funded by the issuance of revenue bonds in 2014, 2017 and 2020 and repaid over 20 years by rate increases and high system development charges.

Anderson said the new hydraulic model developed by Carollo eliminated 10 collection system projects identified in the city’s 2002 master plan, a total savings of about $2.4 million. In addition, a previously identified improvement was eliminated for a $2.5 million savings.

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