Too much recycling may hike city's rates

Basin Disposal, Inc. said it is taking in 114 percent more material than originally projected.

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WALLA WALLA - The company in charge of emptying the blue recycle bins across town says an excess of material requires an increase in rates of 32 percent.

Basin Disposal, Inc. is currently in the process of asking City Council to approve a rate increase for residential customers from $3.64 to $4.81 per month.

The main reason for the increase is because tonnage of recycled material is 114 percent more than what was projected in original bid proposals, according to a Basin Disposal letter to the city dated Jan. 14.

The letter went on to state that Basin Disposal is hauling about 256,000 pounds of recycled material to Walla Walla Recycling every month, and the original bid request had the projected amount at 119,000 pounds.

"I believe the reason you have increased tonnage is because of the 96-gallon cart. Before people had a 14-gallon tub and there was only so much you could put in there," Basin Disposal General Manager Steve Wheatley said.

Another option currently being reviewed by staff would be to switch to an every-other-week pickup schedule for the blue recycle bins.

Basin Disposal reported the cost to do this would be $3.85 per month, which is still 21 cents more than what customers are now paying for weekly pickup of their recyclables.

The city is also reviewing an option to include a fuel surcharge into the billing system, which would be adjusted according to diesel fuel prices.

Under the current system, Basin Disposal charges a fee to pick up and deliver material to Walla Walla Recycling, which processes and ships the material to SP Recycling Corporation of Portland.

Based on the current market price of recycled material, SP Recycling then pays the city of Walla Walla for the material it received and sold.

The questions that remains is if the projected material has increased by 114 percent, did the projected payment from SP Recycling also increase beyond what was expected? And if so, did the city use that increase to reduce the cost of the recycling program?

On Friday, a request was made to the Public Works department by the Union-Bulletin for financial information relating to payments received from SP Recycling for 2010.

The department responded it would be working with the city's financial department to confirm those figures.

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