By Meg Olson
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) has given the go-ahead to proposed new garbage rates for the Point.
At a November 30 open meeting the commissioners approved an order allowing tariff revisions to go into effect on January 1 that would see the cost of residential every-other-week garbage pickup service increase by eight percent, from $10.80 to $11.68 cents per month. Curbside recycling rates will drop a few cents to $5.28 per month.
In their ruling the commission found that the increase agreed to by WUTC staff and the proponent, Canada Recycling and Disposal, was “fair, just, reasonable and sufficient because the company has demonstrated the need for additional revenue.”
The new rates go hand in hand with the county ordinance adopted earlier this year which eliminates exemptions from solid waste and recycling services for Point Roberts. When that law goes into effect in January, Cando will be required to serve 1,800 customers where the company now has 300 customers for curbside pickup services.
An additional $398,000 of revenue will be generated under the new rates. “To increase its level of service the company has had to acquire additional resources such as trucks and containers, and will incur increased costs for additional labor,” the commission’s order states.
The commission also pointed out that the company had not asked for a review of its rates, which must be approved by the WUTC, since it took over providing garbage service in 2008. “Staff has reviewed the company’s book and records, as well an the county’s proposal to collect fees for the minimum level of service through its property tax billing process. Staff determined that if the company had requested a rate increase for its current level of service to 300 customers, it would be entitled to approximately $34,000 additional annual revenue, or an increase of 18.7 percent.”
To ensure that the rates generate adequate revenue for the company to fulfill its mandate but do not represent undue profits the WUTC will require the company to make compliance filings in 2019 and 20120.
Cando owner David Gellatly said that they anticipate starting service to all 1,800 properties that will now have their garbage fees billed as part of their property tax bill by the week of January 14. “We’re still not quite sure of what the routes and schedules will be,” he said, but pickup days will be Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays while Sunday and Thursday will remain days the transfer station is open.
As the new service model is rolled out information will be updated on the company’s website and through a supplementary website . While basic garbage fees will be collected through the county Gellatly said they would be sending statements to all customers every other month to let them know how many of their minimum service level (26 cans per year) they had used up and how to sign up for additional service if needed. “We are going to be expanding our office hours so if there are questions or complaints we can make sure they are addressed,” he said.