Portland.Garbage

Portland’s sanitation fees are set to rise in September for both residential and commercial customers after a vote of approval from the Portland City Council.

Portland residents and businesses will be paying more for their garbage pickup, beginning in September.

The Portland City Council approved by a 5-2 vote at its July 12 meeting changes to the fee structure for sanitation service.

Thomas Dillard and Mike Hall voted against the increase.

The residential rate will move from $18 per month to $23, and the commercial rate will move from $22 per month to $29 for the first two supplied carts. Additional carts will cost businesses $14 per month each, and the ordinance notes that commercial carts remain city property.

The ordinance also establishes a commercial dumpster rate of $225 per month for each four-yard dumpster per commercial user.

Notification of the increases will be sent out along with water bills.

Portland Director of Public Works Carlton Cobb cited an increase in tipping fees by the Sumner County Resource Authority as the reason for seeking a local increase. The Sumner County Resource Authority raised its fees by $5 per ton beginning on July 1.

“We recently received a fee increase from Sumner County Resource Authority, which I think the last one occurred in 2016,” Cobb said. “We did a comparison to see where we are with other municipalities around us, as well as private haulers. Everyone around us is going up because they got the increase as well.”

Cobb noted that Portland offers daily and weekly pickup on bulk and brush, and two trash cans at no extra rate. The city also replaces all carts without cost, regardless of age, if they are damaged or stolen.

“It’s just a level of service we offer that isn’t offered anywhere else,” Cobb said.

The cost of trash carts from the current provider has also risen by $18, according to Cobb, who said his department is looking at options to reduce that cost.

Cobb noted that the sanitation department had to move approximately $168,000 out of the general fund during the last fiscal year to cover shortfalls in its budget.

“It’s been basically upside down since we put a fee in,” Portland Mayor Mike Callis said. “Some years, it’s bigger than other. Sanitation is a special revenue fund. It’s backed by the general fund.

“Year after year, the amount of money obligated to the general fund was growing, and so they would raise the rate to try to offset some of that money.”

The ordinance originally called for increases to $22 and $28, but alderman Brian Woodall motioned to raise each by a dollar. The motion was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Dillard and Hall in opposition.

“The minimum we need right now is the $4 rate increase,” Woodall said. “But when you look at what we have on order, equipment-wise, there’s no money for maintenance, if we need to purchase a new tractor. It’s my belief the numbers just don’t match up at the end of the day.”

The city’s sanitation rates have periodically increased over the years, going from $11 when established in 2003 to the current $18 in 2016. Rates were previously raised in 2006 and 2010 as well.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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