Residents in the city of Winter Garden soon will pay more for their trash service.
The Winter Garden City Commission on Thursday, Aug. 11, approved a recommended resolution that includes an estimated 15.57% increase in solid-waste services.
City Manager Jon Williams said when the commission met around the same time last year for the budget presentation, it was identified that solid-waste rates would need to be evaluated.
Williams discussed the resolution through a presentation during which a recommendation was made to revise the rate schedule for residential and commercial solid-waste services with an increase of 15.57% — about a $3 per month charge — to residents beginning Oct. 1.
Williams explained the solid waste fund is operated as an enterprise fund that accounts for activities similar to those provided by private enterprise. Enterprise funds are intended to be self-supporting, and the accounting helps measure the full cost of providing service.
The city of Winter Garden has four enterprise funds: water and sewer, stormwater, solid waste and Trailer City.
The collection and removal of residential/commercial garbage, recyclables and yard waste are the core functions of the city’s solid-waste department.
The city last increased rates for solid waste 14 years ago, in May 2008.
However, since 2008, residential and commercial revenue has increased on average by 2.4% annually with growth, and the solid-waste operating expenses have also increased on average 5.3% annually, according to Williams’ presentation.
Williams said the current solid-waste expenditures exceed the operating revenues collected.
Over the past eight years, several factors have contributed to the cost of operating solid-waste management, including increased tipping fees at the landfill sites, increased vehicle maintenance fees, fuel cost and capital, the purchase of new equipment due to increased routes and replacement of aging trucks.
The monthly residential rate will go from $19 to $22 per month.
In addition, staff recommended to annually adjust the rates using the CPI-U rates from June to be effective Oct. 1 each fiscal year as part of the annual budget process.
Commissioner Ron Mueller said although no one ever wants to see rates go up, it has been a significant amount of time since the amounts were adjusted.
“While we continue to thrive as the Winter Garden community, and having one of the lowest millage rates of the surrounding communities in West Orange, we do by far have superior trash, recycle and bulk pick-up,” Mueller said. “I can’t say enough good about them, because they do so much.”
However, the commissioner also placed a heavy emphasis on resident awareness being essential when it comes to recycling.
“Our recycle costs went from $50 a time to $120 in July,” Mueller said. “I strongly encourage recycling but be responsible in recycling, because we’re charged by the ton. Whether or not what you throw in the recycle bin is recyclable or not, if it ends up in the trash can, then we’re still paying for that. … I would strongly encourage citizens to help us reduce that cost by only putting recyclables in those containers.”
Commissioner Mark A. Maciel inquired whether a resolution to reduce service to every other week — like Apopka — had ever been considered.
“We do have some amazing services sometimes, and it is amazing what I see people put out, where another city would charge for that pick-up, we don’t, which I think is perfect, but is there a point where we ever think about curtailing services?” Maciel asked.
Williams said while timing is not the best for the increase, the rate is minor compared to the number of years when the city last adjusted the rates.
“Our service is superior,” Williams said. “I think that reflects in the way the community looks, and certainly we don’t feel like we want to propose a service reduction to our residents.”
The resolution passed unanimously.