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Durango raises trash, recycling collection rates

2.5% increase will cost ratepayers 71 cents more per month, on average
Durango City Council approved a 2.5% increase to trash and recycling collection rates to maintain revenue to cover upcoming costs that include a new vehicle, a new baler and an expanded facility. (Durango Herald file)

Durango City Council has approved a 2.5% increase for trash and recycling collection fees in an effort to maintain funding for future expansion of its collection fleet and facilities.

The rate increase passed Jan. 18 in a 4 to 1 vote, with councilor Olivier Bosmans being the only councilor to vote against it.

“I continue to have a hard time explaining to our residents that we are working on the cost of living in Durango for lower income families while we keep increasing rates and at the same time have relatively high fund balances,” Bosmans said.

The city also just approved a 3% rate increase for sewer customers, which will result in an average monthly rate hike of $2.22.

Council made the decision based on a trash and recycling rate study conducted by Kessler Consulting Inc. that found the city will see a significant drop in reserve funds by 2023 if a rate increase is not approved.

A 2.5% increase equates to 42 cents more a month for trash, and 29 cents more a month for recycling for the average resident who pays for a 90-gallon container. Monthly rates for a 90-gallon container will now be $11.89 a month for recycling, and $17.25 for garbage.

The rate increase for trash and recycling is the first in two years. Durango Public Works Director Alison Baker said no additional rate increases are foreseen in the immediate future.

“This was a one-time increase that should accomplish the goals that are envisioned for the future,” Baker said. “Obviously, if inflation goes nuts all our services are at risk.”

The rate study revealed that if trash and recycling rates are not raised, the cost to fulfill waste management services will exceed the revenue collected in the next couple of years.

The projected cost of trash and recycling services in Durango in 2021 was $3.1 million, and the rate study suggests that cost could rise as much as $1 million by 2025.

One cost the city is expected to incur in the near future is for a new baler. The current baler will be past its useful life in 2025. Additionally, higher demand for commercial trash services requires an additional truck be purchased and added to the fleet within the next two years.

Increased population in recent years has also sparked a conversation in the city about the potential need for a new and larger recycling transfer facility.

“We’re anticipating that we’re going to be looking into plant expansion within the next two to three years,” Baker said.

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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