Phoenix to raise trash collection service fee for first time in 11 years
PHOENIX – No, it’s not April Fools. In two months, trash service rates are going up in Phoenix by $7 a month over the next year.
Also not April Fools: All of the public comment at Tuesday’s City Council policy meeting was in favor of rate hikes.
“I’m dependent on my garbage being collected,” resident Dolores Henderson said. “I know there’s more involved than just picking up my can.”
“A growing city with a changing waste stream requires that they innovate and adapt services to provide quality for the residents,” said Bill Campbell, another Phoenix resident.
Currently, Phoenicians pay $26.80 per month for weekly trash, compost and recycling collection.
With Tuesday’s 7-to-2 vote, the City Council will phase in an increase starting in two months.
The rate will go up $3.75 to $30.55 in April and another $3.25 to $33.80 in January 2021.
Starting in 2022, there will be 2% increases to account for inflation until 2026.
Public Works Director Ginger Spencer says Phoenix has not boosted collection fees in 11 years.
“We deferred equipment and vehicle maintenance, as well as new purchases,” she said. “We didn’t add vehicles for growth.”
Phoenix now has 400,000 customers. Employees took pay cuts for a time.
Most of all, recycling revenues plummeted, because of China.
“They were no longer going to accept certain types of recyclables, as well as they require at 0.5% contamination rate,” Spencer said, meaning China wants old plastic in nearly pristine condition.
And yet, Spencer says Phoenix’s recycling diversion rates have reached 36%.
So, supporters on the council and in the audience at council chambers wanted to maintain current collection standards.
“Services like water and sewer, solid waste collection, and disposal rate increases will be necessary if we want to maintain and sustain a high quality of life,” resident Caroline Chapman said.
Yet not everyone was for the increase in cost. Councilman Sal DiCiccio, recovering from spinal cord surgery, called into the meeting to say enough with the fees.
“We saw a rate increase last year of 12% for water,” he said. “We saw Uber and Lyft threaten to leave [Sky Harbor] Airport because of fee increases.”
Arizona’s Supreme Court are reviewing the legality of $4 pick-up and drop-off fees for rideshare companies.
DiCiccio said his alternative proposal would have run collection trucks for more miles and longer hours to save taxpayer dollars.
Councilman Michael Nowakowsi was skeptical of the fee increase because it’ll happen so quickly, but he voted “yes” anyway.
The council had three alternatives to the increase it approved. One option would have ended compost collection.
Another would have reduced recyclable collection to every other week in line with demand.
The other would have ended compost and recyclable collection.
Those three options would still have come with fee increases and resulted in lost city jobs.
Council members held public hearings on these plans. The vast majority in attendance supported the hike they approved.