SIERRA VISTA — The City of Sierra Vista has been losing around $150,000 a year to operate its refuse services, city council members learned during a work session Tuesday, and the results of an 18-month collaboration with a Tucson-based firm aimed at helping the local economy rely less on the military were revealed.

Public works director Sharon Flissar kept council members’ attention when she told them that fees for refuse services the city provides to certain users would be raised. Flissar said the revenues garnered by the current fee schedule are not enough to sustain the financial needs of the Refuse Enterprise Fund.

“We’re losing about $150,000 a year in operational costs (for refuse services provided),” Flissar told the Herald/Review after her presentation. “The fee increases would make up that loss.”

Flissar said the fees would be increased only for people who use the city’s refuse services. Those include the use of residential dumpsters, compost fees and special pick-ups for yard and non-yard waste. In fiscal year 2019 for example, the city did not charge a pull fee for the rental of dumpsters.

The pull fee includes delivery of the dumpster, rental, pickup and disposal of the waste. In fiscal year 2020 though, a resident who rents a 3-cubic-yard dumpster will have to shell out $153.24 for the entire service. The fee jumps to $181.64 if a resident rents a 6-cubic-yard dumpster.

As far as compost goes, Flissar said the city’s compost is so cheap that people were buying it and reselling it for more money. With the proposed fee schedule, Sierra Vista residents who use refuse services will go from paying zero to $10 for an inbound fee for compost, and from $15 to $25 for an outbound fee for screened compost.

Non-residents would pay $10 instead of the $5 they pay now. Special pickups for non-yard waste meanwhile, will spike from $14.40 to $44.85. Special pickups for yard waste will go from zero to $44.85 as well.

“These increased fees could put the fund back in the black,” Flissar told council members.

The other topic the council discussed was the Sierra Vista Technical Assistance Program. The program was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, with the goal of helping the city diversify its economy over a two-year period. The program ended this past August and a final report by Tucson-based Sun Corridor Inc., was presented at Tuesday’s session.

Sun Corridor’s main task was to assist companies seeking to expand their operations in areas not tied to the defense sector, city officials said. Council members learned that only five companies were recruited and 15 new jobs were created, while another 15 were retained.

The partnership with Sun Corridor cost the city just over $200,000. The Defense Department’s grant — which was just over $700,000 for this project and another study on the diversification of the Sierra Vista Municipal Airport.

Council members will vote on these issues at their regular council meeting Thursday at 5 p.m. Other topics they’ll consider include: pre-annexation and development agreement between the city and Cochise Roadworks LLC, an agreement between the city and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and acceptance of a grant from the city of Tucson to pay for overtime for a Sierra Vista police officer to participate in the DEA’s Southern Arizona Major Investigative Team.

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