Gardnerville pursuing another trash rate increase
Less than a year after a staggered 3.5 percent increase, residents of Gardnerville proper may see another significant spike in their trash rates.
On Tuesday, Gardnerville town board members voted unanimously to pursue a 7 percent increase in residential rates, excluding a hike in commercial rates and canning the idea of charging for an extra can and green waste.
For a single family residence, the increase would translate into $55.11 per quarter, versus the current $51.50. In comparison, the Town of Minden charges $55.20 per quarter for a single family residence.
The need for additional revenue, said Gardnerville Manager/Engineer Tom Dallaire, stems from underfunding of depreciation amounts for capital equipment, approximately $19,000 for the current fiscal year.
“We need to replace equipment, bottom line,” he said. “Our depreciation value is not keeping up with demand.”
Dallaire pointed to the oldest trash truck in the town’s fleet: a 1998 Peterbilt, originally costing $124,618, which needs to be replaced. He said the town has been cutting costs by performing truck maintenance themselves, such as rotating the tires, and by dumping in Carson City, which costs about half as much as the Douglas County transfer station.
The town is also consolidating routes and shutting down green waste pick-up from January to the end of March, though Christmas tree pick-up will still be available.
What doesn’t help matters is that Gardnerville’s commercial trash income has taken a sharp dive. Town officials attribute this to the economy and the overall poor business climate. In the 2006-07 fiscal year, there were 27,007 commercial dumpster pick-ups, compared to 22,476 in 2009-10. Dallaire expects that number to drop 21,600 this year.
“We have already started off substantially lower this year,” he said.
July of last year saw 2,010 commercial dumpster pick-ups, versus 1,857 during the same month this year.
“I think we just need to bite the bullet on this and get residential fees up by 7 percent,” said town board member Mike Philips. “That way, we don’t have to visit this for a while.”
Gardnerville resident Linda Slater questioned whether commercial rates should be increased as well.
“If you raise rates for residential, then the question is going to come up what you’re doing for commercial to offset your losses,” she said.
Board member Paul Lindsay said commercial customers are still paying about 55 percent of the dumping fees.
“It’s a small portion of the population paying a huge piece of the bill,” he said.
Commercial customers pay $22.40 for each pick-up, and $17 a month to rent a dumpster. Both current commercial and residential rates reflect an overall staggered hike that took effect first in July 2009 and jumped again in January.
In the last fiscal year, Gardnerville had 1,578 single-family residential trash customers and 216 commercial accounts.
“If we increase commercial, we’re not going to pick up much due to the fact that pick-ups are down,” said Philips.
A 7 percent increase in residential rates would generate an additional $47,587 for capital equipment. Two public hearings are required before any rate increase can take effect, and Dallaire hopes the new rates wouldn’t start until the first of 2011, or even as late as July.