Latrobe OKs 26 percent hike in garbage fees, hears union drivers’ concerns
Latrobe residents will see their quarterly garbage collection bills increase by $15, or an average of 26 percent, this year under a new five-year contract between the city and its refuse hauler, Republic Services.
With Mayor Rosie Wolford absent, city council Monday voted 6-0 in favor of the agreement, which is retroactive to the beginning of the year. But a city public works employee voiced concern about Republic taking over some responsibilities from union employees for transporting large roll-off garbage bins.
Republic won’t increase its charge to the city in the second year of the contract. While the city will pay an additional 2 percent to the hauler in each of the remaining three years, city manager Wayne Jones said he hopes Latrobe won’t have to pass those increases on to residential customers.
This year’s quarterly residential rates are $66 for those who place their trash in bags and $81 for those who use wheeled “toter” containers. “During the last contract, we had a rate increase in the middle of the five-year term, and I’d like to avoid that,” Jones said.
Councilman James Kelley pointed out the cost to the city increased a total of 31 percent over the course of the past garbage contract, compared with the 32 percent cumulative hike slated in the new agreement. “That’s a difference of only 1 percent between the two contracts,” he said.
Latrobe residents will continue to pay an additional per-bag sticker fee of 40 cents for garbage collection.
The monthly bag rate for commercial customers is expected to increase from $18.50 to $23.50 this year, but Jones noted commercial rates have yet to be finalized.
Jones said he’d talked with representatives of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 629 about a shift in work duties for some of the bargaining unit’s eight public works employees under the new contract.
He explained the city’s union drivers no longer will haul large roll-off bins containing construction debris from city customers directly to a local landfill for disposal. Instead, they will haul the bins to the city transfer station, where the debris will be compacted before Republic transports it to the landfill.
Todd Dalton, secretary-treasurer of the union local and one of the affected drivers, suggested the change will cost the city money.
“We feel the city is making more money by us doing it rather than contracting it out,” Dalton said. “Some of the figures that were thrown at us just don’t match up.”
He said the city has charged customers $190 to dispose of a 30-cubic-yard roll-off bin, but now it will pay Republic $200 per load to complete transport of that waste to the landfill.
Latrobe still will be ahead financially when considering the wear and tear saved on its trucks and the employees that will be freed up for other work, including serving new commercial customers the city hopes to attract, Jones said.
“We have some vehicles that are from 2005 or older,” he said. “We need to baby them, and this will help reduce the overall wear and tear.”
Jones said he plans to meet with union representatives next week to address the members’ concerns.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .