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Solid Waste: Idaho Cities "Talk Trash"

Posted By Johanna Bell, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Solid waste collection within Idaho is characterized by waste collection within cities for delivery to county-owned and operated landfills.  Waste collection may be conducted by public or private entities, such as under a sole source contract, with a city-owned fleet, or by private haulers.

In the spring of 2017 the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) surveyed its member cities to obtain information about city solid waste services, utility rates and other issues.  This was followed by an additional, more informal, survey of City Clerks attending the fall 2017 Idaho City Clerks, Treasurers and Finance Officers Association (ICCTFOA) Institute.

Results from these kinds of surveys can be used to compare cities’ current policies and practices to other cities, and highlight common issues present throughout the State.  Survey results are also used by AIC to advocate for cities at the State level. AIC gives cities access to the aggregated results so they can use it as a reference and for comparison to other cities’ rates and data.

The responses to both of these surveys were voluntary and do not represent a statistically significant data set.  For example, it is not possible to draw conclusions about similar cities that did not participate. Information for individual cities should be carefully assessed in light of individual solid waste facility and utility planning needs.

Summary: Spring 2017 Solid Waste Survey

Participation: Response to Spring 2017 Solid Waste Survey

Services

<1,000

1,000-4,999

5,000-14,999

15,000-49,999

>50,000

Total

# Solid Waste

37

27

11

7

7

89

# Cities by Population (Idaho)

118

49

18

8

7

200

% Represented (Idaho)

31%

55%

61%

88%

100%

54%

 

The spring 2017 survey asked cities what a residential solid waste customer would be charged for an example 65-gallon trash bin (i.e., as a way to provide a comparison among cities).   The relative rates across the State, and among various city sizes, was found to be quite similar.

Table 5.1: Average Solid Waste Collection Rates – Responding Cities

Population

Monthly Rate

n

Standard Deviation

<1,000

$ 16.91

20

$ 5.67

1,000-4,999

$ 14.62

15

$ 6.93

5,000-14,999

$ 15.33

6

$ 2.82

15,000-49,999

$ 18.41

5

$ 6.02

>50,000

$ 13.98

5

$ 3.47

Statewide Average

$ 15.85

51

$ 4.98

 

When adjusted for a cost of living increase, the average 2010 rate of cities is generally $2.14 lower than the 2017 average.  However, 10 out of the 33 responding cities showed the 2017 rates were less than the adjusted 2010 rates.  It is possible that these rates do not reflect cost of living increases.

Solid Waste Collection Rate Comparisons for Responding Cities

2010

2010 Low

2010 High

2017

2017 Low

2017 High

Average Increase

n

$ 14.19

$ 5.21

$ 20.04

$ 16.32

$ 8.00

$ 28.49

$ 2.14

33

 

Most cities have increased their solid waste collection rates within the last three years.  The most common year for rate changes for all city sizes was 2016. Only 2 out of the 41 cities that responded have not adjusted their rates within the last 3 years; and almost all cities increased their rates.

Average Rate Update and Percent Change for Responding Cities – Solid Waste Collections

Year

Mode

% Change

n

Comments

2015

2016

7.4%

41

Note: 1 decreased rates

 

The spring 2017 survey asked respondents to elaborate on why their solid waste collection rates increased and were provided the option to select multiple reasons. For solid waste collection the top reasons for rate changes included inflation or CPI, contract negotiations, and labor costs.

Catalysts for Solid Waste Rate Changes – Responding Cities

Inflation or CPI: 81%

Contract Negotiated Increases: 81%

Labor Costs: 71%Capital Improvements: 39%

State of Federal Mandates: 33%

Treatment Costs: 23%

Other: 3%

n: 31

 

Cities were asked about the solid waste collection rate structures.  The majority of the responding cities charge a flat monthly rate with a volume limit.

Solid Waste Collection Rate Structures – Responding Cities

Flat Rate – No Volume Limit

Flat Rate – Volume Limit

Per Service*

n

21%

69%

8%

51

* Includes trash, recycling, hazardous waste, and large object collections.

Supplemental services that divert waste into other programs (i.e., recycling, hazardous waste collections, and compost) are provided to residents within 47% of the responding cities with populations greater than 5,000, and 9% of those with populations less than 5,000.  Large object collection services are provided by roughly two-thirds of those cities that responded to the survey.

Supplemental Solid Waste Services – Responding Cities

Population

Additional Trash/Large Object

Waste Diversion*

n

<5,000

60%

9%

35

>5,000

79%

47%

19

Total

67%

22%

54

* Recycling and hazardous waste collections.

Cities were asked about the most challenging issues they faced as they provided solid waste collection services.  Similar to other utility services, challenges relating to a small customer base impacted many of the responding cities, followed by inadequate or aging infrastructure.

Solid Waste Collection – Most Challenging Issues for Responding Cities

Small Customer Base: 69%

Aging or Inadequate Infrastructure: 47%

Inadequate Funding: 24%

Challenging Regulatory Requirements: 18%

Limited Access to Operations and/or Maintenance Staff: 15%

Limited Access to Landfill Facilities: 12%

Limited Access to Additional Funding for Reserves: 9%

Small Pool of Governing Officials: 3%

Other: 24%

n: 34

 

Summary: Fall 2017 ICCTFOA Solid Waste Survey

Participation: Friday Morning Round Table

Services

<1,100

1,100-4,999

>5,000

Total

# Participating Cities

16

21

23

60

# Cities by Population (Idaho)

118

49

33

200

% Represented (Idaho)

14%

43%

70%

30%

 

The fall 2017 survey inquired about how the solid waste collection services were provided, and what are the pressing solid waste issues facing the participating cities.  For the limited sub-set of Idaho cities (60 out of 200), it appears as though slightly more than half of Idaho cities develop sole source contracts for city-wide collection services.  Also, the apparent trend is that slightly more than half of the larger cities provide their own collection services.

Solid Waste Collection – Service Framework (% of Participating Cities)

< 1,100

1,100 - 5,000

> 5,000

Total

City-Provided Collection

13%

24%

52%

32%

Sole Source Contract, City-Wide

75%

62%

30%

53%

Multiple Private Collectors

13%

14%

17%

15%

 

Diversion services can prolong the life of landfills, while establishing means to reclaim waste for additional re-purposing and raw material conservation.  These efforts, coupled with an active asset management program, can help avoid dramatic rate increases (a.k.a., rate shock).  Results of the fall survey show that slightly more than half of participating cities support some kind of waste diversion programs, but that active collaboration between Idaho cities and counties is limited.

Solid Waste Collection – Diversion Services (% of Participating Cities)

< 1,100

1,100 - 5,000

> 5,000

Total

Recycling or Green Waste Diversion?

25%

76%

52%

53%

Actively Working with Counties for Diversion?

13%

33%

22%

23%

% Idaho City Represented

14%

43%

70%

30%

 

Pressing solid waste issues facing the fall 2017 ICCTFOA round table participants were discussed and are listed here.  Please note that this list is not prioritized or comprehensive.  Further, the listed issues may or may not have statewide implications.

Solid Waste Issues Facing ICCTFOA Participants

Issue

Comments

Sole Source Contracting

Best management practices for contract development and elements are needed.

Glass Recycling is Costly & Difficult

Ground glass is used for road bed material in Idaho only; no other industrial uses exist.

High Cost of New Landfills

This has prompted regional landfill planning for Lewis, Idaho, Adams Counties.

Local Landfill Availability

Example: Freemont County relies on a transfer station to the Jefferson County landfill.

Contamination in Collected Recycling

Excessive contamination prevents diversion and causes additional costs to the program.

 

For questions or further discussion, please contact AIC Environmental Policy Analyst, Johanna Bell at jbell@idahocities.org

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