Belleville residents can expect to see an increase in trash fees but just how much of an increase has not yet been decided.
The last increase was in 2010 for most residents and in 2009 for residents 65 and older.
Aldermen are scheduled to vote on a plan Monday night that would raise the rates $2 a month from $18 to $20 for most residents and $1 a month for senior citizens from $13 to $14.
But some aldermen said a higher rate may be needed, particularly because some of the city’s trash trucks are in bad shape.
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“We’re in dire need of new trucks,” said Ward 7 Alderman Dennis Weygandt.
I feel as your finance director, we’ve come to a time that we do need to consider increasing our trash collection fees. We’ve held it off as long as we can.
Finance Director Jamie Maitret
Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore said he appreciates the effort to keep the increase as low as possible but said a larger increase is needed to maintain the quality of service provided by the sanitation department. He also noted that the amount Belleville charges is lower than what some private companies charge residents in other metro-east cities.
Weygandt also thinks the city should consider raising the fees even more than the $2 increase recommended by the City Council’s Finance Committee last Monday. The committee voted 6-2 to support the $2 increase for residents and $1 for senior citizens.
This plan, if approved, would raise about $300,000, according to Finance Director Jamie Maitret.
Overall, it costs the city about $3 million annually to operate and support the sanitation department, which has 16 drivers, and that the city receives about $3 million in fees.
“It’s about breaking even,” Maitret said.
The sanitation department’s costs last year included about $300,000 on maintenance of trash trucks, which Maitret described as “absolutely ridiculous.” She said one truck had a rusted out tail end and trash would fall out while the department’s newer trucks often need “extremely costly” repairs that can cost $5,000 to $10,000.
Before the Finance Committee voted for the $2 increase, there was a 4-4 vote for a $3 increase for most residents and a $2 increase for seniors but that proposal died on the floor because of the tie.
The full council has the final say and will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Lindenwood University-Belleville at 2600 W. Main St.
Weygandt and Ward 4 Alderman Raffi Ovian were the Finance Committee members who voted against the $2 plan.
“I feel as your finance director, we’ve come to a time that we do need to consider increasing our trash collection fees. We’ve held it off as long as we can,” Maitret told the Finance Committee.
Maitret said the cost to send trash to the landfill is increasing and costs to run the sanitation department have increased. Also, the city has used state tax revenue to help support the sanitation department but that source of revenue is dropping, she said.
We have a quality sanitation department and if we want to maintain that quality, we have to pay for it.
Ward 7 Alderman Phil Elmore, who supports raising trash fees $3 or $4 a month
“As the state money is shriveling up, the other tax revenues can’t subsidize all these services,” Maitret said. “While we haven’t raised rates in seven years, obviously those costs have been going up every year but we’ve absorbed it through other tax revenues.”
Mayor Mark Eckert said the city worked to prevent an increase in trash fees for as long as possible but the city recently received a notice that landfill fees will be increasing and that increase is what prompted the city to look at raising the fees.
“We tried not to raise any fees, really, during the recession and several years since,” Eckert said.
Maitret told the Finance Committee that she recommended a $2 increase monthly increase.
But not all aldermen agree with her.
“We have a quality sanitation department and if we want to maintain that quality, we have to pay for it,” Elmore said. He said a $3 or $4 monthly increase would be “significantly less” than what a private hauler would charge.
“It just makes common sense to me to not have to keep going back to the residents and we need to get this right” and approving $2 and $1 increases “is not right,” Elmore said.
The sanitation department’s annual costs include about $18,000 to pay for a company to accept the recyclable items like aluminum cans and plastic milk jugs collected by the city. Maitret noted that it’s worth paying this fee because it prevents the items from going to the landfill.
“Keep in mind that, while we do have to pay for them to take the recycling, this keeps these materials out of the landfill, which saves us on landfill fees, as well as the obvious environmental impact,” she said in an email.
Monthly trash fee comparisons
Includes trash, recycling and yard waste collection unless noted:
- Mascoutah $14.23 by Waste Management, no yard waste but recycling every two weeks.
- Belleville $18 by city employees
- Freeburg $20.25 by Waste Management, no recycling
- O’Fallon $21.55 by Waste Management, recycling biweekly
- Millstadt $26.15 by Waste Management
- Swansea $19.95 per five stickers, one sticker per can up to 33 gallons. Two stickers per can 33 to 96 gallons. Yard Waste additional $10.37
- Shiloh $25.76 by Republic Services
Sources: City of Belleville, News-Democrat