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Aberdeen agrees to absorb cost of trash pickup as part of property taxes

Toter-brand trash and recycling containers, like these on display at Aberdeen City Hall, could be in store for residents after the mayor and City Council decided Monday night that the city would start covering the cost of trash removal.
Toter-brand trash and recycling containers, like these on display at Aberdeen City Hall, could be in store for residents after the mayor and City Council decided Monday night that the city would start covering the cost of trash removal. (David Anderson/The Aegis File)

The Aberdeen City Council agreed it will absorb the cost of trash pickup for residents when it begins its new program.

A new trash pickup program has been in the works for several months in Aberdeen, which is doing away with its sticker program that is based on how much trash is discarded instead of recycled, and moving to a flat fee pickup.

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Rather than implement a fee, however, the mayor and council members agreed Monday at their city council meeting the cost of trash pickup, about $250,000 a year, would become part of the general fund, without an increase in the city’s property tax rate.

“Instead of a bill, it will be included as part of the property taxes,” Mayor Patrick McGrady said.

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It would include pickup of trash, recycling and yard waste once a week.

The city will evaluate the cost for bulk pickup for larger items and determine if and how to charge for it, City Manager Randy Robertson said.

Some municipalities charge a flat rate up to a certain point then begin charging, others charge a flat rate to begin with.

The other options for paying for the new trash program included establishing a partial enterprise fund or a full enterprise fund. Under the partial fund, designed to offset the tipping fee, residents would pay $15 a quarter, or $60 a year for trash service. In the full service fund, unsubsidized by the general fund, residents would pay $18 a month or $216 a year.

The latter options were criticized by several residents, including Bob Hartman, who lives on Paradise Road.

“We’ve paid enough in taxes, [trash] should be free,” Hartman told the mayor and council before they agreed to make it a service covered by property taxes.

The city acts like it’s flush with money, selling the Moose Lodge for more than $385,000 less than it paid for it, tax abatements for five years, water and sewer reductions, he said..

“With all the money you’re saving everybody else, the residents of Aberdeen should not have to pay for trash,” he said. “Residents of Aberdeen have to say enough is enough.”

The city has 4,500 residential trash customers, with a staff of seven people making about 1,100 stops a day, four days a week to pick it all up.

The city operated at a deficit of about $34,000 last year in trash collection, down from a $50,000 to $60,000 deficit the year before.

The city ordered 9,000 new containers, costing approximately $400,000, that are expected to be delivered to city residents in February or March and used for trash disposal.

Each container should be able to accommodate most residents’ trash, which averages about 31 pounds per week per customer.

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