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CityLink Seattle

Seattle City Council to consider 3-year solid waste rate plan

Proposal would increase garbage rates by an average of 4.4 percent annually

SEATTLE — In keeping with Seattle Public Utilities’ long-term strategic business plan, the Seattle City Council Tuesday will consider a rate path for solid waste services — garbage, recycling, composting — which would raise residential and commercial charges by an average of 4.4 percent a year over the next three years.

Under the plan, rates would increase 7.2 percent in 2017, 1.9 percent in 2018, and 4.0 percent in 2019, effective April 1 of each year.

If approved, the monthly solid waste bill for a typical residential customer (one 32-gallon garbage can, one 96-gallon food and yard waste cart and one 96-gallon recycling cart) would go from $44.85 this year to $48.10 in 2017. In 2018 and 2019, average household bills would be $49.00 and $50.95, respectively.

The proposed rates were forecast in SPU’s business plan, approved by City Council in 2014, which caps combined rate increases for all SPU services — drinking water, sewer, drainage and garbage — to an annual average of 4.6 percent through the year 2020.

Drivers of the current solid waste rate proposal include:

  • Expansion of Seattle’s Utility Discount Program (UDP) for low income residents. For customers who qualify, the UDP offers 50 percent off SPU bills and 60 percent off City Light bills. Over 21,000 households are currently enrolled in the program (an increase of more than 7,000 since January 2014). Continued program expansion is expected to result in an estimated total enrollment of 32,000 households by the end of 2016. By 2019, the program is expected to increase solid waste low-income credits by $1.5 million an expense shared by all ratepayers.
  • Expansion of Clean City — a set of SPU programs that reduce and clean up graffiti, illegal dumping, and litter. The programs are an extension of traditional City of Seattle solid waste services for keeping streets and neighborhoods clean and healthy by collecting garbage and encouraging environmental awareness.
  • Design and construction of a new recycling and reuse center, which will be built on the old South Transfer Station site, in South Park. This facility will allow the recycling and repurposing new types of materials, as well as increased volumes of current recyclables. Seattle will continue to lead the way in recycling more types of materials for their highest use, keeping thousands of tons of waste out of the landfill.
  • Completion of the city’s new North Transfer Station, a state-of-the-art solid waste facility. The station is expected to be open to the public by the end of this year.

Under the rate plan to be considered by City Council on Tuesday, commercial solid waste bills would increase by varying amounts, depending on the type of service and the number of times the waste is collected. Here are two examples:

  • A convenience store or a busy restaurant with a 3-cubic yard non-compacted dumpster, collected once a week, would see increases of $31.18 in 2017, $8.66 in 2018 and $16.62 in 2019.
  • A 30-unit multi-family building with a 3-cubic yard non-compacted dumpster, a 96-gallon food waste container, and 3-cubic yard recycling service, would see increases of $36.55 in 2017, $10.45 in 2018, and $22.28 in 2019.

The rates proposal will be discussed by the City Council over the next several months and will be finalized as part of the budget development process in the fall.

Learn more about Seattle Public Utilities, at: www.seattle.gov/util.

Watch a short video about SPU.

Follow SPU on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SeattleSPU.

Seattle Public Utilities provides essential services. We deliver pure mountain drinking water, recycling and composting that lead the nation, and sewer and drainage systems to protect our local waterways. These services safeguard your health and our shared environment, and help keep Seattle the best place to live.

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