City Council reviews new rates for 2021 and beyond

by Richard Uhlhorn

Garbage rates may increase by a large amount, but some on City Council are questioning a decision to raise the rates by 25 percent at one swell swoop a little much for residents still struggling with unemployment and the ongoing pandemic.

Erin McCardle said, “Twenty four percent is a really large jump, especially for those on fixed incomes. It’s hard to swallow.”

Tim Hollingsworth carried the discussion further by suggesting that the City look at spreading the higher costs out over several years. City Finance Director Steve Thornton said the City has some cash in the fund. “We could combine the total over two years.”

Mayor Goedde commented that it might be a good idea to see what the residents would like the City to do. Hollingsworth suggested a four year ease into the high rate, but Thornton replied that the City’s fund is not that flush.

Public Works Director Jake Youngren remarked that most of the departments phone calls center around garbage and recycling. City Consultant Chris Bell stated that costs are rising. Mayor Goedde suggested discussing with Zippy the potential of taking on the City’s recycling needs and that the added volume might help Zippy make some money. Bell replied that it would be an expensive venture.

Mayor Goedde asked if the Council had to make the decision by next Tuesday’s Council meeting. Thornton replied, “No… we can do more research.” McCardle stated she appreciated that approach.

Peter Jamtgaard suggested that more research into finding more outlets for recycled material is needed. Bell mentioned that several companies are exploring the recycling business in Eastern Washington. “Cardboard has increased substantially,” said Bell. Recently, cardboard was selling at $22 a ton, but has increased to around $40 to $60 a ton as opposed to its once high of $110 to $150 a ton.

Bell also stated that mixed paper is getting a lot of interest by Kelso Norpac which is converting its plant to process more paper. “They will be able to take more than what Washington and Oregon can produce and pay $80 to $90 per ton.” The ability to move the materials to more locally centered businesses will also reduce costs. “It would be good if you can go back to earning a little money,” said Bell. “I’m hopeful.”

The City’s recycling revenues have dropped considerably from $97,000 in 2017 to $40,000 in 2020, which is a net change of $135,000. Residents will pay $9.10 cents per month for recycling pickup services which currently is a City requirement.

Jon Olson asked where the proposed purchase of a glass crushing machine and program was at. No one had any answers to that question except that Olson said the total program will cost around $150,000. “This would be a great service to wineries.” It will be included in next Council’s discussion.

The council also discussed the upcoming rate changes and projections for the next four years. Permits, water and sewer hookups and other charges were looked at and will be discussed at next week’s Council meeting.

The Parks Department is raising its golf course rates upwards by six percent and the RV Park will begin raising its rates in 2022. “This will be a three year rate increase,” said Parks Director Paul Horne. He stated that he can’t raise rates for 2021 because the park is already booked out.

Jamtgaard asked if there was a way to allow people who have been trying to use the park to gain access in the future. Horned replied that booking is mostly done through email when the Parks Department sends out notification that it is open for booking. He stated he relied on Parks employee James Hayter for his expertise in rate changes. Mayor Goedde remarked that the RV Park bookings fill up in five days after it is open for reservations.

Consultant Chris Bell suggested that the Park keep its summer rates through Labor Day. “September is still a peak season. You need to keep your prices up until the end of September,” he said.

The Council will consider its list of Legislative Priorities at its next meeting. McCardle asked to see past Legislative Priorities for reference at the next meeting.

Mayor Goedde remarked that over the last several years, the City has employed a paid lobbyist. “We need to spend some time on this at the next Council meeting,” he said.

The Council also decided on which councilmember would liaison with other organizations over the next year.

City Council/Airport BoardMayor & Council
City Council WorkshopMayor & Council
Cascadia Conservation DistrictOlson (Hollingsworth)
Chelan County Solid Waste Council Witt (Goedde)
Chelan County Fire District 7Baker (McCardle)
Chelan Valley Housing TrustHollingsworth (Robledo)
Chelan Douglas Transportation CouncilGoedde (McCardle)
Emergency Management Program Witt (Robledo)
Historic Downtown Chelan AssociationRobledo (Baker)
Lake Chelan Arts CouncilOlson
Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce BoardRobledo (Baker)
Lake Chelan Research InstituteHollingsworth (Olson)
Lake Chelan Water Shed Planning UnitHollingsworth (Olson)
LEOFF Retirement BoardMcCardle (Goedde)
Link Transit BoardGoedde (Olson)
NCW Economic Development DistrictWitt (Jamtgaard)
Park BoardOlson (Hollingsworth)
Planning CommissionJamtgaard (Olson)
Port of Chelan CountyMcCardle (Goedde)
Public Facilities DistrictHollingsworth (McCardle)
Tourism Promtions (Chamber Subcommitte)McCardle (Robledo)
  

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