CANNON BEACH — Garbage rates for cities on the North Coast will jump from 4.5 percent in Astoria to nearly 18 percent in Cannon Beach beginning in July.

The increases are necessary, even though people are throwing away less trash and recycling more, say representatives from Western Oregon Waste.

For 415 customers in Cannon Beach, the price increase for weekly curbside service would mean a $3.87 hike. The 244 customers who have weekly “sideyard” service – where the collector picks up the can from the yard – will pay $4.30 more.

For 115 Cannon Beach customers who have garbage service every two weeks, the price would rise by $2.51 a month.

Rates for other cities won’t go up quite as high, said Laura Leebrick, government and community relations manager for WOW.

Astoria’s rates will increase by 4.57 percent; Seaside, 11.29 percent; and Gearhart, 13.76 percent.

Cannon Beach city councilors expressed surprise Tuesday night when they heard that the 17.76 percent increase would reach into the double digits.

“Almost 18 percent is a big leap,” said Mayor Mike Morgan.

Morgan asked Leebrick and Dave Larmouth, WOW’s rate analyst, to meet with him and City Councilor Nancy Giasson before the next council meeting to determine if the rate could be reduced.

The rise in rates can be attributed to several circumstances, Leebrick said. Fewer businesses are using commercial containers, the number of contractors using drop-boxes is down considerably, and because they are recycling more, residents are reducing the size of their cans and the frequency of collection service.

In Cannon Beach alone, the reduced service meant a $64,000 hit to revenue, amounting to almost 10 percent, she said.

“We saw a significant drop in Cannon Beach compared to other coastal communities,” Leebrick added.

But although requests for service have gone down, garbage haulers still make the same number of weekly trips, Larmouth said. The cost of labor and fuel continues to increase.

Collecting garbage in Cannon Beach also takes more time than in other cities because nearly half of the stops are for sideyard service, requiring the haulers to spend more time retrieving the cans and returning them to the house.

The company has also been unable to collect $2,158 in unpaid bills from Cannon Beach customers, Leebrick said.

If the city followed the examples of other Oregon cities – including Portland – and reduced garbage service from weekly to every two weeks or even less frequently, collection costs would go down, Larmouth said.

But Morgan and other councilors noted, about 600 houses in town are vacation homes or vacation rentals, and requiring a reduction in collection might not be feasible.

Leebrick said the company must make up for past years when revenue declined or the city added services and WOW didn’t seek a full reimbursement because of the poor economy.

This year’s increase includes an 8 percent profit guarantee in the operations ratio contained in WOW’s franchise permit.

Overall, Leebrick noted, the average rate has increased by 5.6 percent a year over the past 11 years.

Without new programs added by the city during that time, the average would have been 3.8 percent, she said.

The company has made internal changes, including wage adjustments, reducing capital expenditures, requiring increased employee participation in health insurance, eliminating the company’s profit-sharing contribution and not filling employee vacancies.

“Anywhere we can find discretionary cuts, we have made them,” Leebrick said.


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