Council approves Republic rate increase

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
The City Council approved a 5.9% rate increase – or an average of $1.21 a month – from Republic Services for solid waste removal at its Oct. 13 meeting.
In 2014, the council had approved a resolution that provided for how rate increases would be determined, which requires the council to formally approve rate changes each year. The Consumer Price Index rate methodology takes into account employee wage, diesel fuel costs and disposal rates from Republic Services.
Last year’s rate increase was one percent, or an average of 36 cents a month. A letter to the council from Republic Services noted that the solid waste industry is seeing more challenges nationwide this year with a shortage of CDL truck drivers.
Mayor Paul Aziz said he appreciated this new standard of determining rate increases.
“I know we were always frustrated when they came to us with a rate, but I think that this newer format where we’re actually getting a percentage and its cost of living, and they provide us with the numbers, it feels a little bit better than it used to be,” he said.
Previously, Republic Services would automatically increase the rate every year.
Aziz also commented on the city’s recent history of complaints toward Republic for bad customer service, namely trash cans being left on their sides and difficulty with the company’s website.
“It seems like things have improved quite a bit,” he said.
Councilor Jason Bolen dissented on the increase.
Also present at the meeting were councilors Wayne Dykstra, Gamael Nassar, Wayne Rieskamp, Michelle Steinhebel and Kim (KJ) Ullfers.

In other business, the council:
♦ Read a letter from Lindsay Pehrson regarding Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Sept. 29 visit to Sugar Vibes. OSHA employees presented a warrant to search the premises and issue fines following a complaint. The warrant’s validity is being questioned, and Pehrson asked the City Council to create an ordinance that prevents OSHA from “harassing, belittling, intimidating and pushing unlawful mandates” on local citizens.
Aziz said he corresponded with Pehrson via email, explaining to her that the City obtains its power from the state, which prevents the City from having any jurisdiction over OSHA.
“If businesses choose to violate OSHA regulations, and OSHA comes in, there’s nothing the City can do to stop that,” he said;
♦ Approved a lease agreement with Albany Eastern Railroad Company to rent the Santiam Travel Station for City Council meetings and holiday events;
♦ Appointed Kristina Breshears to the Planning Commission;
♦ Approved a public utilities easement at Airport and Stoltz Hill roads for the purpose of installing a traffic signal;
♦ Approved a right-of-way purchase for the Primrose Street extension as part of the River Road Reconstruction project;
♦ Approved the annexation of .54 acres located on the north side of Walker Road and east of Stoltz Hill Road;
♦ Accepted a $10,000 grant from the Ford Family Foundation Grant to help fund the $23,500 contribution of the City for the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) student;
♦ Awarded the North Williams Street Storm Drainage Improvements Project to Pacific Excavation, Inc., of Eugene, for the amount of $122,285;
♦ Repealed chapters 13.20 and 13.24 of the Lebanon Municipal Code regarding ambulance service and municipal railroad utility that are both outdated and no longer relevant;
♦ Discussed the question of installing a bottles and can recycling facility in the city. Councilman Nassar asked City Manager Nancy Brewer to research how that might happen.
Brewer contacted the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative that operates several recycling programs in Oregon, including the Bottle Drop facilities in Albany and Corvallis.
“The OBRC is not particularly interested in pursuing more of those facilities,” she said. “They are expensive to operate because they’re staffed during the day hours and you have to have a facility.”
Grocery stores in Albany and Corvallis are also operating a green bag drop site, but there are no stores in Lebanon that are working with OBRC to put these facilities in the city.
“Walmart has said kind of a definite ‘no,’” Brewer said. “Safeway has been iffy on whether or not they would consider doing this kind of a drop situation.”
Safeway told her they might think about allowing the installation of a shipping container converted into a recycling drop location, but would require another entity to take on the project.
Aziz expressed hesitation about allowing the City itself to take on the project due to ongoing costs, risks and logistics, but agreed it would be a great project for someone to take on.