City Council Considering an Increase in Solid Waste Fees

On November 27th, City Council will consider adopting a new solid waste rate structure that will increase the amount that residents, businesses, property managers, and waste haulers pay for solid waste disposal and recycling services.

Creating a Sustainable Solid Waste Fund

The rates for Solid Waste services have not been adjusted in over 10 years and a number of projects, goals, and initiatives make it necessary to raise rates.

First off, the Solid Waste Section is required to maintain a minimum fund balance of 10% of revenues generated. A number of federally mandated capital projects at the Cinder Lake Landfill and improvements to the collection fleet put the fund at risk of meeting this minimum fund balance.

The City also adopted the Rethink Waste Plan in 2017 and, at the moment, there is no dedicated funding for achieving the goals outlined in that plan including:

  1. Reaching zero waste (90% diversion) by 2050

  2. Reducing overall waste generation

  3. Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Flagstaff’s consumption

What does the rate proposal look like?

For single-family residents, rates will increase 7.5% each year for a period of five years. The table below shows what this looks like to the solid waste portion of your utility bill:

 Residential bill impacts

Residential bill impacts

Other Solid Waste fees, including commercial collection and landfill tipping fees, will see a one-time 3% increase.

How will increased revenues be spent?

 Volumetric pricing - the smaller your trash cart, the less you pay

Volumetric pricing - the smaller your trash cart, the less you pay

Volumetric Pricing (Pay-As-You-Throw)

The rate increase will allow the Solid Waste Section to implement key initiatives outlined in the Rethink Waste Plan, including a volumetric pricing program, otherwise known as pay-as-you-throw. This program would establish smaller trash cart size options for single-family residents and the smaller the cart you choose, the less you pay. This would create a monetary incentive for residents to reduce their waste and recycle more. Over 9,000 other communities across the country have implemented this type of rate structure, typically resulting in a doubling in the amount of recyclables collected.

Expanded Recycling Outreach

At the moment, there is no dedicated funding for recycling outreach incorporated into the existing Solid Waste rate structure. As a result, the City spends about $0.16 per resident on recycling outreach. This compares to recycling leaders, such as Portland, San Francisco, and Austin, that spend well over $1.00 per resident. This rate proposal would allow Flagstaff to increase this amount to $0.80 per resident.

Major Capital Projects

The rate proposal would also make possible multiple capital projects at the Cinder Lake Landfill, including a landfill gas capture system, that would drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the landfill.

Want to learn more?

Staff will be hosting an open house discussing these fees at the Cinder Lake Landfill (6670 Landfill Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86004) on November 16th, at 12:30 pm. You can also attend the Council Meeting where this item will be discussed, which is taking place on November 20th at 6 pm at City Hall.

If you have any questions about the rate proposal, you can find a detailed report on the proposal here or contact Dylan Lenzen at dlenzen@flagstaffaz.gov or 928-213-2158.