Local hauler requests hefty increase in garbage rates

Published on Thu, Aug 29, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Local hauler requests hefty increase in garbage rates

By Meg Olson

The local garbage hauler has applied to the state for a 13 percent increase after ten years of static rates.

“The rates are set by cost- accounting. The cost-causer has to pay the way,” said Norman Nichols, the consultant hired by Blaine Bay Refuse to prepare the rate case submitted to the Washington Utility and Transportation Commission (WUTC) on August 15. “It’s gotten way out of line over the years and we’re trying to straighten it out,” he told Blaine city council at their August 26 meeting.

Nichols said the last time garbage rates went up in Blaine was in 1993. Local owner Gilbert Johnson sold the company to Recycling and Disposal Services (RDS) of Fern-dale several years ago and that company started looking at the rate structure and hired Nichols. “When RDS took over, neither they nor the previous owner really knew the regulations. I found so many things that weren’t in line with the regulations. Gil (Johnson) was giving away services when he shouldn’t have, which meant someone was paying too much somewhere else. We’ve spent the last few years straightening things out so it’s fair to everyone.”

Nichols explained that the 12.7 percent increase was not across the board, as the new rate structure would be ironing out inequities in how different classes of customers are charged. However, most customers could expect a ten to 13 percent hike to catch up with a decade of rising costs to the company and static revenues. He also pointed out the WUTC would come up with the final numbers. “While 12.7 percent is what we’re asking for, it may not be what we get,” he said. He also added the company was applying to bill every three months instead of every two.
Council member Ken Ely wondered how often a garbage company would normally ask for a rate increase. “A 12 percent increase after ten years seems pretty small. What’s our expectation for the future?” he asked.
“As the economy goes, so go the rates,” Nichols said. “If the economy stays about the way it is you could go for another five years without seeing another rate case.”

Nichols said the garbage company was asking for the rate increase to be effective October 1, when certain new wage and tax hikes hit their books.
City council did not take a position on the rate increase but city manager Gary Tomsic suggested that any citizens with concerns should submit them to the utilities commission (WUTC) for their consideration during the rate review.

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