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Waste Fee Bill Cycles Change as City Works Towards Greener, Cleaner Future

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COVINGTON - For the first time in many years, Covington residents and businesses will experience a change in the way they are billed by the City for waste management services as part of a bold plan to achieve a greener and cleaner future.

In early March, the City mailed a letter with the waste fee bill explaining the change in the billing cycle to every resident and business.

The change comes at a time when the current contract for waste management services expires and a new contact is set to take effect on or about July 1, 2015. As part of the new contract, owners of real estate parcels with one to four residential units will continue to be billed directly by the City on a semi-annual basis, while businesses and owners of parcels with 5 or more residential units will be billed directly by the waste management contractor on either a quarterly or monthly basis.

One of the aims of the new contract is to outsource the billing process to the new vendor. The City had determined that the new billing approach would be administratively convenient for the City and for the residents, and especially businesses who receive a bill from the City for the pickup service and another bill from the waste contractor for the dumpster or other larger container they rent from the waste contractor.

Another important objective of entering into a new contract for the management of City waste is to set the framework for expanded waste disposal and recycling services, and bulk drop off opportunities that the City believes will change the City’s image and significantly improve the quality of life. Sheila Fields, the Waste Management Coordinator for the City of Covington remarked that “the contract is the culmination of an extensive procurement process designed with a view of finding a waste management professional that, together with the City, can deliver on the City’s vision of fulfilling its obligations as environmental steward, leading to a cleaner City.” Although the changes will be progressive, Fields feels strongly that the new contract will have “a transformative effect on the City of Covington.”

The new basic rate is $150 per year per residential unit and $90 for those homeowners that are entitled to a Homestead Exemption. This is an increase from the previous year’s $122.50 and $73.50 respectively. 

Finance Director Lisa Goetz explained the increase to elected officials and those in attendance at a City Commission Meeting held on Tuesday, March 11, 2015. City records revealed that the cost of waste management services had been heavily subsidized by the City’s General Fund.  [see full presentation here].

Locally, most other cities in Northern Kentucky do not subsidize its waste removal service from its General Fund for residents. Nationally, the average cost of trash services spans between $150-$420 annually, according to some industry benchmarks1. City Leadership also acknowledged that the internal process for managing waste management billing was burdened by high overhead costs and a confusing billing scenario for businesses, and that streamlining the procedure would go far to demystify the complexities of the current billing system. In addition, the transition to a direct billing process will ensure that the majority of residents who pay their waste fee bill on time, won’t have to pay for those who are delinquent. The current waste contract requires the City to pay a fixed amount each month for service to everyone, even those who do not pay their waste fee or pay on time, including some businesses and rental properties.

City Manager Larry Klein said, “We cannot continue to subsidize this service from our General Fund as it comes at an expense to other important needs of the City. We are working towards better service provision and streamlining the process for residents and businesses. We are committing to a greener, cleaner City and the first step is to make sure our waste removal service and cost structure is aligned with those goals. Some details of the billing process still have to be finalized and are dependent on the discussions we will have with the vendor after the contract is finalized.”

 

1 http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/cleaning-services/remove-waste/ also see:http://owensindustries.vpweb.com/upload/Research-Bulletin-Service-At-A-Bargain.pdf