Scottsdale commercial waste rate increase goes into effect Aug. 1

Scottsdale City Council voted to increase commercial waste rates but to keep commercial recycling rates the same. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Scottsdale City Council voted to increase commercial waste rates but to keep commercial recycling rates the same. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Scottsdale business owners will be seeing an increase to their waste services beginning Aug. 1; however, they did escape a proposed large rate increase to the city’s recycling program.

During a May 17 city council meeting, top city officials heard reasons for and against a proposed waste and recycling rate service increase before ultimately deciding to only increase waste rates.

A front load commercial container’s collection rate increase could be around $71 for a two-yard container, up to $101 for an eight-yard container, the city website estimates.

City staff presented findings from a study conducted last fall by NewGen Strategies & Solultions, LLC, to evaluate the fees the city charges for Solid Waste Services for both residential and commercial customers during the May council meeting.

Results showed while fees collected adequately cover the cost of service for residential customers, the city needed to charge more for its commercial services to maintain its level of service provided to customers and to cover costs.

The cost of service study came up with a different result for residential services. It showed that the city was collecting the full cost of providing service to residential customers and that a rate increase was not needed at this time.

The city’s Environmental Advisory Board Chair Alisa McMahon sent a letter to council dated May 12, urging the board to consider alternate options before increasing recycling rates. She cited that NewGen’s study had a narrow focus, “to determine the solid waste fees required to adequately recover the costs of providing services.”

The study did not include operations efficiency or cost reduction strategies, for example, she said.

“The proposed commercial recycling rate increase would be detrimental to commercial and multi-family recycling, our city’s image, and the local and global environment,” Ms. McMahon penned.

One example was given by Scottsdale Marquessa Condominium Association President Cindy Adams, who cited that the city’s notice of the proposed recycling rate increase might be as much as a 400 percent increase.

The council voted 5-2 not to increase the commercial recycling services, after a handful of council members stood up for the morality of low recycling costs. Mayor Jim Lane and Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp were the dissenting votes.

The effect of the vote was the removal of $300,000 in revenue.

“If you came to my house and say, ‘hey, we are going to start charging you,’ I would say ‘well it’s going in the trash, I’m not doing the recycling program,’” said Councilman Guy Phillips.

“To actually charge people is going to turn off a lot of people.”

Although the proposed recycling rate increase was for commercial properties, there are cases of buildings that provide residential housing but are zoned as commercial.

Scottsdale last increased rates for commercial and residential customers in July of 2009, according to the city website, and the cost to provide service “has simply gone up,” it states.

“We are growing as a city very fast, both residentially and commercially,” said Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield during the May city council meeting.

“Businesses are moving in. People are coming in. We’re building apartments. I think that’s going to cause, if nothing else, an increase to our recycling program here.”

The 2009 rate increase of 2 percent allowed the city to hold the rates flat for the last seven years. The new rate increase will be implemented over two years, with the first phase beginning Aug. 1. The second increase will potentially follow in July 2017.

The city services 1,440 commercial front load customers. It also provides recycling services to over 450 commercial customers and roll-off services to 236 customers.

“This is something that touches to the core, what we want Scottsdale to be and how we want it to develop,” said Councilwoman Littlefield.

“Do we want to have this recycling program? This is a pretty new program, but I think that we need to take a look at what we’re doing… What is our strategy moving forward for the next 5-10 years to make that happen? Not necessarily just raising fees every year but expanding the program and making it more cost effective.”

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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