Condo owners will pay $120 a year for bulk trash pickup and other services under a garbage fee plan passed Monday by the Atlanta City Council.
Residents had criticized the previous plan requiring them to pay a $400 annual fee, arguing they already pay for similar services from private providers. Bulk pickup is being offered by the city for the first time to condo and townhome owners.
Ben Howard, president of the Buckhead Condo Alliance, said he’s glad the bills were lowered, however, he said the changes still aren’t justified. He called it a “stop-gap measure that allows them to get the bills out.” Bills are expected to be mailed in July.
In November, the council approved new rates for commercial and residential customers for garbage services that would include bulky items such as furniture and appliances, plus right-of-way maintenance and street sweeping. But condo owners complained the fee essentially made them pay twice for bulk pickup services. They previously paid $9 a year for street and right-of-way cleaning.
“I think the city is forcing a service on a community that it’s not beneficial to and prefers not to pay since they already pay for a private service,” Howard said.
Atlanta’s solid waste rates haven’t changed in 15 years and the city’s trash program has run at a deficit for several years, said City Councilman J.P. Matzigkeit, who represents Buckhead and chairs the public works committee. Fees are supposed to cover expenses, but the shortfalls have drained about $34 million in revenue from the general fund.
On Monday, the City Council passed two resolutions addressing the shortfall, including one asking for a rate study by the city’s public works department, which might lead to adjusted rates. Matzigkeit said the new rates still won’t cover the city’s shortfall.
“Frankly, even with these new rates, the operation will continue to lose money,” he said. “We’ve got more work to do ahead of this.”
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Howard said he’d have preferred City Council revert back to the previous year’s rate of $9 per year, conduct the study and adjust rates based on their findings.
City Council also passed a resolution asking the city’s finance department to discuss improvement to the solid waste fee collections with the Fulton County Tax Commissioner.
According to the resolution, the discussion would include the option to have the solid waste service bills included on property tax bills. A report on the results of the discussions is due to the city utilities committee no later than August 13.
— Staff writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this report.
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