Council Message: Sanitation Fees Increased Slightly to Help Cover Costs

Trash and RecyclingBy Councilwoman Tish Buroker

Beginning in July each household’s trash collection fee increased by $1 per tote. This increase is the result of much discussion, and finally compromise on the part of the City Council as we approved the budget for Riverton City for the fiscal year 2020/2021. This is exactly how government should work. Let me explain. Each year the Mayor presents a budget to the City Council. This budget includes the Mayor’s budget based on strategic priorities, and the City Manager’s budget based on the needs of the city to maintain quality employees and services. It is then the responsibility of the City Council to actively review the two budgets, meeting with individual city departments, the Mayor and City Manager. These meetings never include more than two Council Members, as required by law. The council then meets as a body in public meetings to discuss and finally approve a city budget. These public discussions took place in work meetings and City Council. Approval of the city budget is one of the key tasks of the Council and takes many hours over a compressed time frame in May and June. By state law the budget must be in place by July 1 each year.

One of the issues debated this year was sanitation (trash) fees. The known facts are as follows:

  1. In fiscal year 2019/2020, $630,000 was transferred from the REDIIF fund and placed in the sanitation fund to cover the actual cost of service.
  2. The charge from Riverton City to residents is $72 per year for one garbage tote and one recycle tote. The actual cost to provide the service is $136.68.
  3. Riverton sanitation costs are less than Bluffdale ($177.00), Lehi ($126.00), Draper ($180.00), West Jordan (192.48), South Jordan ($175.44), Herriman ($204.00) and Sandy ($191.40).
  4. The city has an excellent contract with low fees. However, as the Trans-Jordan Landfill becomes full (estimated in the next 9 years) costs will increase because trash will need to be transported to a new landfill much further away.
  5. The city receives a financial audit each year. The audit recommends that a fund, such as sanitation should be self-sustaining, such that money does not need to be diverted from another fund.

Each Council Member, similar to each household, has a different attitude and philosophy regarding income and how it should be spent. Some Council Members favored continuing to subsidize trash for as long as possible since there is money in other funds that can be used. Some Council Members favored increasing the sanitation fee to $11.50 per month to cover actual costs. This would allow the city to increase funding for other projects, such as parks, street lighting, and enhancing downtown just to name a few. In the end a compromise was reached for a very modest increase of $1 per month for the standard garbage and recycling totes, with an additional $1 per month added for additional garbage totes. This increase to $72 per year, for one garbage tote and one recycle tote, is still much less than any of the surrounding cities.

As I stated earlier this final decision was the result of communication and compromise. No Council Member got exactly what they wanted but all were heard, and their opinions respected. Hopefully this is the same attitude that prevails among Riverton residents. There is room for many points of view and personal opinions. As we live together through these interesting times let us all work together for the good of the community knowing that in the final analysis compromise is a positive outcome.

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