Highland Township residents will now be asked to pay a refuse collection fee of $140 per year as opposed to the $120 of previous years, an increase the township Board of Trustees approved on Wednesday, May 11.
The fee hike will cover the scheduled contracted increases that have been occurring per stop since 2005, which have been covered along with fuel surcharges by the Refuse Fund’s fund balance.
However, with the fee increases every year per stop and the likely possibility of more fuel surcharges, the board thought it would be prudent to raise the unit cost for residential property owners so that it accurately reflects the cost of the service until the contract ends in 2014.
Currently, the actual residential property cost is $134.64 annually per customer and is set to rise to $137.28 next year.
If the Refuse Fund’s balance continues to absorb the contract increases, the fund would pay out $17.28 annually per customer for at least 6,377 stops next year, which would translate to $110,194 from the fund balance. If no increase was made to the residential fee, then the fund balance would be paying out $383,385 of the contract cost of $2.68 million for 2012-2014.
As of the end of April 2011, the Refuse Fund’s balance was at $505,644.
“We can’t go down this road because it will eat up the Refuse Fund fund balance, which we rely on to pay for Hazardous Waste Days, cleanup of storm damage on township property, and the cost of a staffer who handles all refuse-related matters,” said Township Supervisor Triscia Pilchowski.
By increasing the fee to $140 per residential unit, the minimal draw from the Refuse Fund would be $765.24.
And despite the $20 fee increase, this would still be less than township residents were paying before the township contracted with Richfield Equities in 2004. Back then, the cost for residential garbage collection was $168 customer.