Taking out the garbage means taking out the wallet along the Wasatch Front, where the weekly chore is becoming as expensive as it is unpleasant.
Garbage collection fees have gone up this year in Salt Lake City, Murray and West Jordan, and increases are being contemplated in Bluffdale and a number of other revenue-strapped communities.And costs could go up even more if local officials adopt the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Council's recommendation to raise landfill dumping fees, an increase that would be passed on to users. The council is suggesting that those fees go up $1.75 per ton for commercially hauled garbage and $2.75 per ton for privately hauled trash.
The reasons most often cited for the escalating fees are the high cost of converting to automated collection systems, rising fuel and landfill costs, and recycling efforts. What was once taken for granted as a tax-funded municipal service is increasingly becoming a new "line item" in the household budget.
MURRAY - For the first time ever, residents are being charged a monthly collection fee of $1 per month. The charge, which covers the cost of dumping at the Trans-Jordan Landfill, is making its appearance on utility bills.
In addition to the $1 fee, Murray pays $2.59 per household out of its general fund (financed by taxes) for regular garbage collection services. Residents who prefer to have automated trash pick-up, provided under contract with ACE Disposal, pay an extra $2 per month.
Only 900 to 1,000 households - about a seventh of Murray's population - have opted for the automated service, said Public Works Director Charles Clay.
"We wanted to go totally automated last January, but it was shot down by the council because they didn't want to impose what looked like a tax, even though it's a user fee."
Clay favors the automated system, saying, "The cans look a lot nicer. Dogs can't tip them over very easily. They are easier to handle. Most clientele on the automated system are elderly."
A new no-fee service to be offered by Murray in the Spring will allow residents to sign up to use one of four large trailers for yard clean-up. The trailer will be delivered to participating households, left there for up to 36 hours, and then will be picked up and emptied.
WEST JORDAN - The city began converting to an automated system last month and about 50 percent of the population or 3,000 households is now getting the new service, which costs residents $5 per month.
"The trend is clearly to go toward the automated system, although the transition is sometimes difficult," said City Manager John Hiskey. "We have had some complaints about it, but overall I would say it's being well received."
Hiskey agrees with Clay that automation offers a number of advantages, including cleaner streets, fewer injuries to workers and convenience to homeowners. The biggest disadvantage is the expense. Automation is costing residents in West Jordan an additional $1.50 per month, on the average.
BLUFFDALE - The City Council is trying to decide whether to rebid its contract with Waste Management Inc. or simply accept the scheduled garbage collection rate increase. The fee of $4.65 per household per month will go up to $4.88 under terms of the current contract. A decision is expected in December.
SALT LAKE CITY - Up until this year, residents in the capital city were paying a $4-per-month fee for automated garbage collection, which did not generate enough revenues to cover the cost of the service. Rather than continue to make up the difference with general fund (property tax) revenues, the city hiked the fee to $5.25, making the service self-supporting, said Finance Director Linda Hamilton.
On top of that, the City Council added a $1.25-per-month surcharge for the annual trash pick-up program, for a total monthly fee of $6.50. Unlike many communities that have gone to private contractors for garbage collection, Salt Lake City continues to provide its own garbage collection service.
SOUTH SALT LAKE - City tax revenues are sufficient to cover garbage collection costs, making a service fee unnecessary. The city also has a truck to serve residents who dump excess garbage and provides bi-annual community trash pick-up services at no extra charge.
WEST VALLEY CITY - Waste Management also has the contract in West Valley, where residents pay $4.10 per month per household. In a unique billing arrangement with Utah Power & Light Co., the fee, which also covers city administrative costs, appears on UP&L bills. Treasurer Ken Olsen said the combined bill saves the city a substantial amount in collection expenses.
West Valley's fees were imposed only within the past two years. Before that, the service was financed through general fund revenues, Olsen said.
Public Works Director Russ Willardson said rates are comparatively low for the city's 19,000 households because the city is close to a landfill, which saves on transportation costs. The city has not gone to an automated system, but will consider it in the future, Willardson said.
SOUTH JORDAN - The proximity of the Trans-Jordan Landfill keeps transportation costs down and makes a $4-per-month fee possible in South Jordan, said Assistant Administrator Tony Murphy. Garbage collection is provided under contract with Wasatch Disposal.
RIVERTON - Waste Management has the contract in Riverton, where residents pay $6 per month. The fee includes all administrative costs, said City Administrator Craig White.
"We just renegotiated a new contract, so we don't foresee any increase for at least three years," White said.
SANDY - Browning Ferris Industries has the contract in Sandy. The monthly fee is $5.43.
DRAPER - Senior citizens get a $1 discount off the $5.50-per-month fee charged in Draper. The city has contracted with Wasatch Disposal for garbage collection.
MIDVALE - Superior Disposal has Midvale's contract. Residents pay $3.84 per month.
UNINCORPORATED SALT LAKE COUNTY - The fee for automated service is $5 per month.
DAVIS COUNTY - With the exception of Bountiful, fees are much higher in Davis County communities than in the Salt Lake Valley. Kaysville residents pay $11.25 per month; Centerville, $11; Farmington, $10.50; and Woods Cross, $9.90.
Those cities take their garbage to the Energy Recovery Facility in Layton, which charges a $50-per-ton fee. Though expensive, the burn plant, east of Hill Air Force Base, reduces the garbage's volume by 90 percent. Bountiful has its own landfill and can afford to charge only $5 per month.
Costs per household
Woods Cross $9.90
Salt Lake City $6.50*
Salt Lake County $5
West Jordan $5
West Valley $4.10
South Jordan $4
NOTE: Salt Lake City's fee includes annual trash pick-up.
Draper offers $1 discount for seniors.
Murray adds $2 for automated service.