ith an increase in the city’s trash services rate scheduled for public comment and City Council vote at the June 25 council meeting, Highland residents are again debating the city’s move in 2018 to place trash service fees on property tax bills as part of a 20-year contract with Burrtec Waste Industries.
While the issue of whether or not the city should be collecting fees for a private business or on property tax bills is a fair debate, many have been claiming that the city approved the contract “with no benefits” to the city or its residents.
The contract offered several benefits to the city and its residents. It was up to the council to decide whether these benefits were worth committing to the 20-year contract and submitting to Burrtec’s request to place the fees on the tax bills.
The change in billing meant savings associated with paper, envelops, postage and staffing required for sending bills through the mail.
Through the new contract, Burrtec increased street sweeping services, funded a new code compliance officer position for the city’s Public Services division and took on the responsibility of cleaning up materials illegally dumped on city right-of-way (previously done at the expense of the city’s Public Works division).
Although street sweeping services were increased, Burrtec reduced street sweeping fees by half the first year and eliminated them the second year of the contract. This enabled the city to offset for its residents increases in fees for street maintenance and repair ⎯ work many residents have been pressing the city to conduct.
The law requires that rate adjustments have public hearings and city council approval. The public hearing is 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, at City Hall, 27215 Base Line.
Judging from this week’s letters to the editor, several members of the public plan to make their voices heard during the meeting.