City approves small garbage rate increase

Hood River garbage rates will be going up slightly for 2013.

Representatives for Hood River Garbage Service came before the Hood River City Council Monday night to request a 1.9 percent aggregate increase for garbage service in the city.

Jim Winterbottom, a site manager for Hood River Garbage Service, told the council that costs had continued to go up over the last year, particularly fuel prices.

“Fuel continues to be a concern for us,” he said.

Winterbottom said the company was sensitive to the fact the customers would not like seeing another increase in their bill, but preferred to come back every year for incremental increases as opposed to trying to keep rates steady for several years and then having to do a larger increase in rates.

He said the rate increase would bring Hood River in line with other cities on the West Coast in the consumer price index.

The most common service is a 32-gallon weekly can at the current rate of $15.34 per month; the increase would be 31 cents per month.

Every-other-week service is $11.75; increase would be 23 cents.

A commercial yard-and-a-half dumpster would go from $108.76 to $110.92 a month.

The request was approved unanimously by the city council and will take effect in January.

The council also addressed one other garbage related topic at its Monday meeting, resurrecting an idea that Hood River Garbage had brought forward earlier in the fall about the possibility of curbside yard debris collection.

At the time of the idea the council had said it wanted to collect additional public input but Mayor Arthur Babitz said he was afraid the idea “had gotten lost.”

“It really didn’t get lost; we’re just trying to figure out the best way to get public input,” said City Manager Bob Francis.

Among the possibilities were an online survey, a message in customers’ monthly utility bill or advertise in local media.

“We’re still trying to figure it out,” Francis said. “We’re limited as a staff, but we’ll get to it.”

Also at Monday’s meeting:

n The council approved the purchase of a used Jeep Cherokee for the police department and formalized the approval for an ambulance purchase it had approved pending bids earlier in the fall.

n The city council will be holding a joint meeting with the County Board of Commissioners Jan. 22 to address the topic of homelessness in the area.

n Mayor Babitz announced that Francis, County Commission Chairman Ron Rivers, County Administrator David Meriwether, himself and possibly Sheriff-elect Matt English would be meeting Monday to review a report by Bellingham, Wash., Police Chief Todd Ramsey on the possibility of the county and city combining law enforcement services.

n During council call, councilor Laurent Picard, who is waiting election certification on a four-vote win for the final council spot, congratulated fellow council member Kate McBride on winning election to the council by a wide margin.

“Congratulations Kate,” he said. “I look forward to working with you. Maybe.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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