The cost of garbage service in Salem will become more expensive starting Jan. 1 following a Salem City Council vote Monday night.

Council voted unanimously for an 8.48% increase in Marion County for rolling cart services and a 10.54% increase in Polk County for rolling cart services.

The increase means most residential customers in Marion County will see an annual increase of about $32.40, or about $2.70 per month. Polk County customers will see an annual increase of $33, or $2.27 per month.

When the increase takes effect Jan. 1, the Marion County portion of Salem will have the second-highest rate among a comparison of Oregon cities, second only to Gresham. Similar-sized Eugene has a monthly rate of $24.65, while Salem-Marion County has a rate of $34.75 and Salem-Polk County has a rate of $29.05.

The increase was made at the request of the Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association, an organization comprised of the six solid waste management haulers serving Salem residents and businesses. Carriers cited inflation, rising labor costs and difficulties in the recycling market as reasons for the price hike.

A comparison of rate amounts in several Oregon cities.

Garbage discount offered to certain customers

The increase will be coupled with the addition of bi-weekly service and an increase from 10% to 20% in the reduction on garbage service provided to low-income elderly and disabled customers.

The monthly rate for bi-weekly service for a 20-gallon container would be $22.10 in Marion County and $17.35 in Polk County beginning January 1. The service was added following several requests from community members wanting to cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

The 20% discount is offered through the city’s utility rate relief program through the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency and is available to residential customers age 60 years and older or disabled, who is the client named on their account and who have family income. equal to or less than 60% of state median income.

City officials said they regulate fares to simulate competition and avoid monopolistic pricing.

The board voted after a public hearing.

Residents expressed their frustration in written and public testimonials about the existing level of service and the cost of garbage service.

“The 2023 waste rate proposal will create hardship for large, low-income households who will see their waste rates increase from 8.48 to 10.54% next year,” resident Jim Scheppke said in his testimony. writing. “Small families and single people will likely be able to avoid the increase by upgrading to 20-gallon EOW service, but that opportunity is not available to larger families.”

Resident Susann Kaltwasser said more needs to be done to adapt policies to reduce the amount of litter created by Salem residents.

“Salem is one of Oregon’s biggest waste generators,” she said. “I don’t know why Salem is so bad, but clearly we can and must do better. A variety of issues are developing in the world that will require us all to think more about adopting new ways of living. Our landfills end up going to be full.”

Some wondered why the bi-weekly service was not offered to larger containers for larger households.

The unanimous vote was followed by another motion from Councilor Linda Nishioka asking staff to consider ways to focus on equity, climate change and recycling when setting policy. rules and waste rates.

The motion also passed unanimously.

Councilor Chris Hoy said he wanted more to be done to raise awareness of the discount offered to senior citizens and residents with disabilities.

He also pointed out that the council does not control the cost of fuel, recycling and inflation, it can only set the rate, which needed to be increased to keep carriers profitable and in business.

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Reporter Whitney Woodworth covers city hall, economic development and business for the Statesman Journal. For questions, comments and topical tips, email [email protected]call 503-910-6616 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth