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More trash talk: City garbage rates to go up again

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By Jenna McKenna

Just a few months ago, the city of Cedar Key raised its rates for residential refuse collection from $15/month to $16/month, the first residential rate increase in nearly a decade. Commissioner Gene Hodges gripped his wallet in mock outrage as he asked the other commissioners, "Another dollar?"

Over the last few years, the city had absorbed several minor rate increases from its own portion of the fee, and commissioners felt that the city's own increase was both minor and timely.

There wasn't as much levity during this week's meeting of the Cedar Key City Commission. Mayor Paul Oliver advised commissioners that, according to a letter from the city's trash contractor, Waste Pro, the recent hike in tipping fees at Levy County's Solid Waste Transfer Station raised the cost to dispose of Cedar Key's garbage by 36 percent.

Pointing to a clause in its contract which calls for an adjustment to the agreed rate in response to increases in tipping fees, the waste contractor said in a letter to the city that it would raise its rates accordingly.

Commissioners had little to discuss on the item, which would see residential rates go from $16 to about $18 per month, and small commercial rates go from $22 to about $25. The residential rate was broken down so that Waste Pro receives $12.84, and the city receives $3.16. With the rate increase, Waste Pro's portion goes up to $15, and the city's rate remains the same.

Commissioner Sue Colson asked the other commissioners if, the next time the city makes a decision that could be affected by the action of another body, the commission could first inquire whether conditions would be likely to change.

"The next time we have to announce a change in our waste disposal fees, could we just ask the county first if they're planning to raise their rates?" she asked. "Having to come back and do this again so soon - it just makes us look indecisive."

Although he stressed that the city's action was precipitated by the county's rate increase, put into effect just two months ago, Oliver said he too was concerned that residents would be confused by the current rate increase coming hard on the heels of the last.

"I just want to be sure everyone knows that this is not an attempt by Waste Pro to increase their profits as a result of this rate increase," he said. "It is merely intended to make up the difference caused by Levy County's rate increase for the transfer station."

Commissioner Vanessa Edmunds suggested the city reproduce a few copies of the Levy County resolution from Nov. 6, 2007, agreeing to the rate increase.

"That way, when people come in to complain, they can read it and understand what happened."

Town Clerk Frances Hodges asked commissioners if, after calculating the rate, the final prices could be rounded to the nearest dollar amount.

"We don't like to deal with the pennies," she said.

Sanitation subscribers will mostly profit from the clerk's simplified housekeeping, as almost all the standard rates will round down, rather than up.

"We may lose a little on the city's part of it," Hodges said.

Rates will change as follows:

Residential inside: was $16, will be $18.16*

Residential outside: was $23, will be $25.16*

Small commercial: was $22, will be $24.68*

Intermediate commercial: was $61, will be $66.36*

Large commercial: was $185, will be 209.74*

Excess commercial: was $27.44, will be $28.78*

* Will round to nearest dollar.