City Council OKs trash rate increase

The Lebanon City Council, in its monthly meeting on Nov. 14, approved a 5.7-percent increase in rates for trash services, which increases the average residential bill by $1.43 per month. 

Based on an agreement with Republic Services, Republic requests rate increases annually following a formula. CPI represents 65 percent of the request, while fuel costs are 10 percent and disposal rates are 25 percent. 

The new rates take effect Jan. 1.

Rates increased 3.5 percent on Jan 1, and in June they increased an additional $2 per month to address dramatic increases in rates to dispose of recyclable material following China’s closure of its markets to U.S. Recycling.

City Attorney Tre Kennedy told council members that, based on that agreement, the council must approve the rate increase. 

Protesting the size of the increase, the council chose not to approve the rate last month.

“We understand the painfulness of us being here twice in a year, and as a coincidence, the cost of fuel has gone up, CPI has gone up,” said Julie Jackson of Republic Services. “I fully understand that this is a tough year.”

“In terms of the rates, I guess we don’t have a choice,” Councilor Wayne Rieskamp said. He asked Jackson to address concerns raised last month.

“We really want to address the service issue complaints that we heard last month,” Jackson said. The main concern was about carts that were tipped over after being picked up. 

Officials drove around a week earlier, Jackson said, looking for tipped carts; and they didn’t find many because Republic has been talking about the problem. 

Operations Manager Rich Dysinger said Republic put together a plan. 

“If we knock a cart over, we’re going to get out and pick it up,” Dysinger said. “It takes just a few seconds to jump out of the truck and pick up that cart. I’ve asked my supervisors to actually do route audits. They’re out on routes after carts have been picked up. They’re looking at areas, making sure cart lids are shut and picked up.”

Republic also is training its new drivers, he said, adding that closing lids on older carts takes “talent.” 

On route audits, supervisors also look for issues with cart placement, Dysinger said. Republic has also changed carts, which are weighted on the bottom, helping keep them standing. 

Regarding placement, when there is an issue, such as under basketball hoops, Republic will leave tags on carts and work with customers on cart placement, Dysinger said. 

“You had also asked us about low-income folks and what we were willing to do for low-income folks,” Jackson said. “We’ve been talking about that. 

“We think we can offer something with low income. We’re going to get with (Finance Director) Matt Apken and look at how you determine who those folks are and how you really work with that program, and we’ll do something like-minded.”

Jackson said Republic should have information to the council by the first of next year. 

Present at the meeting were Rieskamp, Mayor Paul Aziz, Bob Elliott, Robert Furlow and Floyd Fisher. Rebecca Grizzle and Jason Bolen were absent.