City garbage fees to rise

The cost of residential trash service in Kingman will increase from $11 to $11.85 per month if the city council approves the change recommended by the Municipal Utilities Commission.

The increase will cover a $2.70 per ton increase in the dumping fee charged by Mohave County at the two county-operated landfills.

The landfill fee increase will be used by the county to fund efforts to stop illegal trash dumping, called "wildcat" dumping, throughout Mohave County.

Kingman city staff considers the charge unfair because Kingman and Bullhead City residents will pay the fee while Lake Havasu City residents will escape the surcharge because the city uses a private landfill.

Waste Management, the private trash collection firm that operates in unincorporated neighborhoods near Kingman, has increased its trash collection fees to cover the surcharge.

Mohave County Public Works Director Mike Hendrix said the landfill tipping fee surcharge allows the county to address an urgent problem now.

Without the tipping fee increase, the county would have postponed action because of financial problems.

City code requires that 100 percent of sanitation service costs be covered by user fees.

"We have not had a rate increase since 1995, even though costs have increased," said City Manager Lou Sorensen.

"Tipping fees have increased from $321,157 in 1995, to $550,293 in 2000, and the city has been able to absorb the cost increase."

The county surcharge will increase city tipping fees by $55,000 per year.

Other cost increases recently incurred by the city were an additional truck and operator in the current budget, $16,000 more maintenance and additional fuel costs for trucks of $20,000 due to higher fuel costs.

A city analysis of costs shows 35 cents of the increase covers the additional tipping fees.

Fuel costs add 13 cents; a new operator, 18 cents; the lift truck, 12 cents; and maintenance costs, 10 cents.

Without the county landfill tipping fee increase, the city fee hike could have been delayed, Sorensen said.

However, if it were delayed, the city trash service would be operating at a loss by fiscal 2004.

A larger increase would then be needed to make up the difference.

Sanitation costs have been kept lower because the city population grew and increased the revenue base while the cost per resident decreased.

City staff reports credit some of the lower cost to the more dense population.

The lift trucks are more efficient with more dense housing.

The current total budget for sanitation services is $1,726,500.

The 85-cent per month increase will add revenue of $134,100 annually.

The total cost increase estimate is $137,500.

Commercial fees are scheduled to increase proportionately.

The city will notify customers and hold hearings if the increase is approved by the council.