Sierra Vista council members will be talking trash at the regularly scheduled meeting Thursday at City Hall.

Not that our esteemed elected officials and the roster of public employees will be using foul language or behaving badly. Council members are scheduled to act on a resolution to increase the fees for picking up and disposing of your solid waste.

That’s the stuff you put in your green bin.

Just in time for Christmas, the city is expected to add 15 percent to the garbage rate and bump up its fees for container rental, disposal and the “pull” fee for delivery, rental, pick-up and disposal of the containers. The bottom line is these increases will generate an estimated $767,626 in revenue, which is expected to eliminate an ongoing loss in the city’s refuse fund.

Sierra Vista’s sewer and refuse funds are classified as “enterprise” accounts, which means they are held separately from all other city operations and are required to generate enough revenue to cover all costs related to the services being provided. Think of it like a business – only those who use the services are charged and there must be enough revenue to cover all the costs.

This is the second increase in the past three years. Council members boosted the amount charged for solid waste disposal by 10 percent in 2017. Unfortunately, the revenue generated by that increase was not enough to cover ongoing losses in the refuse fund, so more money is needed.

Higher tipping fees at the landfill, changes in state law that favor commercial operators and the loss of revenue from recycling have all contributed to the shortfall in the refuse fund.

We’re wondering if it’s time for our council members to consider privatizing garbage pick up in Sierra Vista. Even with the 15 percent rate bump and additional fee increases this year, the city is just barely generating enough revenue to cover the costs of offering these services. We anticipate more rate and fee increases will be needed soon.

Privatizing the service and empowering the council with authority to establish the terms of a contract with a commercial hauler would get Sierra Vista out of the garbage hauling business and downsize our local government.

In light of these continuing rate and fee increases, we hope the city is considering all the alternatives.

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