There are many reasons why the City of Warren should put the brakes on its plans to increase garbage collection rates.
The Environmental Services Department requested a $1 per month increase in garbage collection rates beginning next week. Since City Council passed only the second reading this week, the increase cannot get approved until later in March unless council calls a special meeting.
It should not get approved at all.
Instead, Council and Mayor Doug Franklin's administration should review the entire operation, from the contract it has with a west-side transfer station to the possibility of contracting with a private company.
Now let's take a closer look at why:
Warren already has one of the highest rates in Trumbull County. Girard residents pay $9.98 per month, Niles $10.31, Weathersfield and Lordstown less than $14, Liberty free if the customer does enough recycling and Warren $14.37. The proposal would take Warren's price to $15.37 per month.
The city's general fund charges the sanitation customers a 50-cents-per-ton tipping fee which equates to approximately $12,000 per year. That's an unvoted tax, not a garbage collection fee, on every customer.
Warren pays Environmental Transfer Systems, Inc., $42.48 per ton, or slightly more than $1 million, to take the city's garbage and drive it to a landfill. Before approving a rate increase, Council should research what methods the sanitation department took to comparison-shop and find alternatives, including recycling, that could drastically reduce the tonnage handled by ETSI.
Reducing the tonnage sent to ETSI also reduces the $5.50 per ton fee, or approximately $132,000, for the Trumbull-Geauga Solid Waste District and the $4.75 per ton, or approximately $114,000, paid to the state. The less a community recycles, the more it pays.
In his state of the city address last month, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell boasted about his town's privatization of garbage collection last year. Toledo is saving $2.8 million per year and most of the city's garbage collectors were either transferred to other city departments, hired by the private collector or retired.
If Warren keeps municipal trash collection it will soon face a substantial capital cost to repair or replace the sanitation department's building. The department budgets nothing toward building replacement.
There is a lot to be considered before City Council passes yet another cost increase on Warren's dwindling populace. In recent years Warren has pummeled itself with tax, water rate, sewer rate and garbage rate increases that has even 100-year-old businesses fleeing.
A dollar a month doesn't sound like much, but given the back story and all the other increases, it's apparent that somebody soon better step up and say no.