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County's Garbage Rates Are On The Rise

POLK COUNTY -- Homeowners and businesses in the urban growth boundaries outside of city limits will see a 5.1-percent increase in their garbage rates beginning Aug. 1.

POLK COUNTY -- Homeowners and businesses in the urban growth boundaries outside of city limits will see a 5.1-percent increase in their garbage rates beginning Aug. 1.

Chuck Lerwick from Allied Waste said the cost of fuel, landfill rates and new programs have contributed to the higher prices.

"The increase went throughout the whole county, but the urban growth boundary will get the commingled (recycling) and yard debris program," Lerwick said. "It's pretty much a repeat of (Dallas)."

Dallas' garbage rates increased June 1 also because of the addition of the new recycling and yard debris carts and the cost of fuel. Under the new county rate, a 32-gallon cart will be $15, 28 percent less than other counties.

Customers will receive new commingled recycling and yard debris carts that will be picked up on alternating weeks.

For the county, Jim Solvedt, the environmental health supervisor and solid waste administrator, said the last rise in garbage rates was in 2006 -- an increase of 1.4 percent. When Allied Waste applied for the new rate in 2006, gas was $2.96 a gallon, compared to more than $4 a gallon today, Solvedt said.

"The fuel cost actually represents 87.8 percent of vehicle operating costs," Solvedt said. "When fuel goes up like that, it significantly causes operating costs to go up."

The county has an ordinance to make sure rates are fair compared to other franchises in surrounding counties. Solvedt said he found that because there isn't a large population in towns to offset rural costs, the county's rural rates are lower than urban rates, opposite of other counties.

"If rural rates continue to go up we are concerned about that because people may want to burn garbage, which is illegal," Solvedt said.

In the end, if gas prices continue to rise, there may be another increase. Lerwick said his company will evaluate costs again at the end of the year to determine the need.

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