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Trash hikes, recycling on agenda

by Christy Chalmers

Trash rate hikes and recycling reductions will be considered Thursday by the Douglas County Commission.

The issues will be considered separately, but both could impact customers of Douglas Disposal, Inc., which provides trash pickup for much of the county.

The county ratemaking committee and county staff are recommending an 8.73 percent rate hike for customers, effective Jan. 1.

Ratepayers may see an 8.73 percent increase regardless of the recycling costs. The increase would assess an extra 6.43 percent for Douglas Disposal, plus 2.3 percent to pay for a recently-approved lease for a refuse transfer station. Douglas County is leasing land from Douglas Disposal to build the station, but will lease the facility back to Douglas Disposal for $50,000 a year.

If the rate increase is approved, customers would be paying $15.25 a month for a 90-gallon container, $12.90 for a 40 to 45-gallon can and $8.55 for one small can. Rates vary depending on the number of cans per household.

Commercial customers would pay $3.15 for a 30 to 32-gallon can, $17.98 for a two-yard container and $150.05 for a six-yard drop box, with higher rates for larger containers.

The current rate hikes won’t be used to expand the county’s recycling programs, however.

Recent requests from Douglas Disposal for a rate increase or other method of paying for recycling programs that were previously subsidized by the company have prompted a recommendation to either drop the programs or let the beneficiaries pay for them.

The programs most likely to be affected are office paper collection efforts. County Engineering Manager Eric Teitelman said the county has contributed its office paper, as well as Bently Nevada and the Carson Valley Inn.

Douglas Disposal has been subsidizing the collection efforts and recently asked for compensation, Teitelman said. Instead of suggesting a rate increase that would affect all customers, he is recommending that the individual companies meet with Douglas Disposal and try to work out an arrangement. Recyclable items are now trucked to South Lake Tahoe, where they are sorted and processed.

“The county’s position right now is that those programs are too expensive,” Teitelman said. “Before, it was not costing anything. What Douglas Disposal proposed was here’s the programs and what they cost and we recommend a rate increase or something to pay for it. The businesses may be interested in keeping those (programs). But they wouldn’t have the rate payers pay for it.”

County leaders are being advised to spend $5,000 to keep a drop-off container at Scarselli Elementary School in the Gardnerville Ranchos and a recycling truck that services different areas throughout the county.

Maintaining the Scarselli bin is estimated at $2,000 for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in June 2000. The truck program is expected to cost $3,000 for the same period.

Teitelman said he and other county representatives will continue to meet with Douglas Disposal and investigate recycling options. Technicians recently began designing a new refuse transfer station that will be built in 2000, and that facility might be the key to restoring and expanding local recycling efforts.

“We’re building the facility specifically so we can handle all the materials in the Valley,” Teitelman said. “I don’t think it was ever our interest to have everything shipped to the Lake. In the future, once we get our facility on line, it’s possible we can start these back up.”

Teitelman noted the ratemaking committee may hold workshops on recycling to gauge what Douglas residents want. Previous studies indicated an interest in expanded recycling programs, but resistance to paying more for them.

Details

The County Commission meets Thursday at 1 p.m. in the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.