BURLEY — The owner of a private garbage collection company challenged the city of Burley’s decision to increase its garbage collection fees on Tuesday saying his company could haul the city’s trash to Boise for what the city is charging residents and still make a profit.
The Burley City Council approved a residential garbage rate hike of $5.50 per month to $17.35 per month for the first can during its Aug. 21 business meeting. The second can will cost $3.50 per month more and three or more additional cans will have a $2 per month increase.
Commercial rates are also increasing the same amount for the first bin.
Lyle Santos, owner of Total Waste Management, told the Council to consider putting the city’s garbage collection services out to bid, but they took no action.
Santos said he doesn’t know how the city “justifies the exaggerated rates.” He said if the city doesn’t put the contract out to bid it needs to look for ways to make the department more efficient, like better route planning.
“The city’s sanitation department is broken and out-of-date,” he said.
During the public hearing on Aug. 21, City Administrator Mark Mitton said the city needs the increase in fees because the city has grown from 3,200 garbage stops to nearly 3,900 stops.
The money will be used for one more employee, new trucks and a building to house the equipment.
Mitton said the rate increase had been discussed by the public works committee and the City Council over the course of about five months.
He said the increase keeps the city within 20 cents of a private garbage collection company’s costs and close to the rates of nearby cities, except for Heyburn, which has “abnormally low rates.”
According to the city of Heyburn’s website, Heyburn charges residents $5.93 a month for garbage service for the first can. Heyburn contracts its garbage services with Total Waste Management.
Santos said Burley’s rates would likely be more than the rates Heyburn residents pay because Burley is farther away from the landfill.
Councilman Jon Anderson said he remembers when a garbage contractor went broke and the city had to take over providing those services to residents.
“It was a disaster,” he said.
Mayor Steve Ormond refused to hear comments from the public because it was not a public hearing.