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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