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Councilman and Waste Board member CJ Rylands. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

City Waste Board approves inflation-related rate increase for garbage collection

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Waste Collection Board approved a 6.94% rate increase for garbage and trash collection due to annual inflation.

The city’s Waste Collection Board met Thursday, Dec. 7, and approved an inflation index-related rate increase granted by the West Virginia Public Service Commission. That increase is 6.94 percent, ranging from about $1.33 to $1.49 for residential customers.

According to a document distributed by the PSC, West Virginia State Code allows a motor carrier collecting and hauling solid waste to change its rates on or after January 1 of each year without filing an application for PSC approval.

Specifically, the rate change must be based on the percentage increase in the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Garbage and Trash Collection Index “between September of the year preceding the effective date of the intended rate increase and September of the year prior to the year preceding the effective date of the intended rate increase,” according to the document.

The Waste Collection board is required to send out letters notifying residents of the increase and explaining how much they will be paying, effective Feb. 1, 2024.

A copy of the letter states: “The Waste Collection Board of the City of Buckhannon provides this notice that it will increase its rates (excluding fuel and tipping fee surcharges) to not exceed the 6.94% percentage increase in the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Garbage and Trash Collection Index from September 2022 to September 2023, as calculated by the Public Service Commission in M.C. General Order No. 64.6.”

The letter says the current residential cost in city limits is $19.20 and will increase to $20.53, while the out-of-city limits residential cost is now $21.50 but will increase to $22.99. The commercial in-city-limits cost is now $27.55, but the increased rate will be $29.46. Finally, the current out-of-city limits commercial cost – $32.13 – will increase to $34.36.

Waste Board member and city councilman CJ Rylands asked how the city originally determined the rate for customers who live outside the city limits, and Director of Public Works Jerry Arnold said the cost was determined during the last rate study, which was a long time ago.

Rylands asked Arnold if there was an organization that oversees how much the city charges for its waste collection services.

“The only oversight would be on the residential side, and the residential side would be solely at the discretion of the [West Virginia Public] Service Commission, so if we submit something, they can say, ‘No, we’re not going to approve your rate for outside the city limits,”’ Arnold said. “We are one of only two municipalities in the state of West Virginia that operates outside the corporate limits for waste collection.”

Director of Finance and Administration Amberle Jenkins said the increased rate is estimated to create an increase in revenue of about $170,000 annually. The Waste Board is its own enterprise fund and is not part of the City of Buckhannon’s general fund budget.

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