Study: San Angelo Commercial Trash Rates are 183% Higher than Abilene's
SAN ANGELO, TX — San Angelo’s city staff compares public safety wages to comparable cities to justify pay raises. So we asked, how do commercial trash rates, as designated by City ordinance, compare with those comparable cities?
Comparing commercial rates between municipalities is difficult because of the various options of frequency and bin size. We found in common the 3-yard, 2-time-per-week dumpster pickup between other municipalities in the region. The cost in Abilene is $56.05 per month. In San Angelo, that same service costs $158.56 per month. San Angelo's rate is 183 percent higher. Next year, San Angelo's rate for the 3-yd., 2x/week dumpster automatically increases to $163.16/mo., or 191 percent higher than Abilene's. Here is the comparison:
|City||Total Residential Rates||Extra Fees (included in Total Residential & Commercial Rates)||Trash||Recycling||Bulky/Brush||Total Commercial Rates (2-6x wk)|
|Abilene||$16.60 month||$1.75 environmental charge (Resi/Comm) $.50 infrastructure fee (Resi) $1.50 infrastructure (Comm) Side load - alleys||2x wk.||None||None||2yd x2 wk. $38.70/mo. 3yd x2 wk. $56.05/mo. 4yd x2 wk. $76.40/mo. 6yd x2 wk. $103.10/mo. 8yd x2 wk. $130.80/mo.|
|Odessa||$18.93 month||Side load - alleys||2x wk.||Drop off||Drop off||3yd x2 wk. $77.00/mo. 4yd x2 wk. $103.00/mo.|
|Midland||$15.81 month||Side load - alleys||1x wk. shared containers||None||Bulky - call in Brush - drop off||3yd x2 wk. $63.24/mo. 3yd x3 wk. $94.86/mo.|
|Brady||$17.00 month||1x wk. 96 gallon carts||Drop off||Brush chipping service $25 first half hour, then $20 for second half hour Bulky - call in||3yd x2 wk. $54.00/mo. 3yd x3 wk. $81.00/mo. 3yd x4 wk. $108.00/mo. 3yd x5 wk. $135.00/mo. 3yd x6 wk. $162.00/mo.|
|San Angelo||$15.73 month||Rate includes $.50 recycle penalty and $.53 bulky pickup||1x wk.||Curbside 1x wk.||Quarterly p/u||3yd x1 wk. $100.59/mo. 4yd x1 wk. $123.88/mo. 6yd x1 wk. $154.86/mo. 8yd x1 wk. $185.83/mo. 3yd x2 wk. $158.56/mo. 3yd x3 wk. $210.85/mo. 3yd x4 wk. $266.03/mo. 3yd x5 wk. $315.27/mo. 3yd x6 wk. $361.33/mo.|
Commercial trash rates became a focus when City officials failed to complete a promised audit of alleged overcharges of commercial dumpster customers. But even before that, when commercial customers saw their first bill after the 2014 trash contract went into effect, many complained of the drastic increase.
City staff agreed the rate increase to commercial dumpster customers was steep, but argued the alternative was an empty solid waste fund and much higher residential rates.
The residential rates are in the ballpark range of the comparable cities but they increase at a compounded 2.9 percent each fiscal year. San Angelo’s residential rates also include a $0.50 recycling penalty. It is a penalty because the amount is added automatically if the collective residential recyclable tonnage fails to meet a 500-ton monthly goal. Currently, San Angelo residential customers recycled 267 tons (net) per month in 2016. Republic claims the approximate $15,000 per month collected for the recycling penalty is a pass-through to Butts Recycling, the vendor’s subcontractor.
The added cost of curbside recycling played a role in the negotiations with Republic Services in 2014. The City opted for weekly curbside recycling, or one garbage pickup run of the two per week prior to the 2014 contract was converted to a recycling, not garbage pickup. The acceptance rate of curbside recycling was less than planned. This year, the City and Republic changed the contract to conduct every-other-week recycling pickup and to replace the dropped recycling pickup with a bulk trash pickup. Republic claims the bulk pickup is more manpower intensive, requiring three men on a truck instead of just one in the automated arm trucks.
San Angelo's residential trash pickup rates are on autopilot, increasing 2.9 percent every year.
The City of Abilene attempted to usher in curbside recycling last year. The City staff there inaugurated a pilot program asking residents interested in curbside recycling to sign a contract. About 3,500 residents there requested a contract. Only 1,446 returned a signed contract. The cost of curbside recycling for those opting-in would have been $5.57 to $7.35 per month, according to KTXS. The recycling pickup run would have run congruently with and in addition to the two-times per week garbage pickup. On August 24, the Abilene city council voted unanimously to not offer curbside recycling due to lack of interest.
During the closed-door negotiations in 2014, the City negotiated the residential fees up 25 percent, from $11.54 per month to the initial rate of $14.47 per month, ostensibly to finance large up-front payments and landfill lease payments from Republic totaling over $16.6 million.
|Item||Proposed Amount||Negotiated Amount|
|One-time Payment to the City||$1,000,000||$3,600,000|
|Purchase of Cell 11A at the landfill||$1,049,800||$1,305,000|
|Funding for landfill closure/post-closure account||$4,735,000||$4,735,000|
|Installation of gas detection system (required by TCEQ)||$0||$670,000|
|Total Value, Annual Landfill Lease Payments||$1,100,000||$6,303,000|
-- Notes: The total for the negotiated annual landfill lease payments of $573,000, negotiated up from $100,000, is for the estimated life of the landfill, 11 years. If the landfill is full before the 11 years are up, then the $573,000 goes away, post-closure.
During the same negotiations, monthly commercial fee increases zoomed upward from a gross take estimated to be from approximately $284,000 to $489,045 for 2014. City ordinance now has those commercial fees on autopilot, also increasing 2.9 percent annually through 2024. By 2024, the 3-yard, 2-time-per-week dumpster for San Angelo businesses will increase from today’s $158.56 to $199.31 (download the rates here in *pdf).
Texas Disposal Systems originally handed out the rate comparison chart at a trash forum in July 2016 to little fanfare. We verified and updated the numbers for this article. We sent a copy of the rate comparison to City Public Information Officer Anthony Wilson. He did not offer a reply.