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For the week of April 11 through April 17, 2001

Trash firm denied rehearing on rates

"If the city is wanting to make a social statement about reducing the amount of garbage, they shouldn’t do it at the cost of the franchisee [Wood River Rubbish]."

Mike Dolan, general manager

Express Staff Writer

What started out as a simple $1.40 across-the-board increase in trash collection rates requested by Wood River Rubbish Co. has turned into a complex discussion of rate structures with the city of Hailey.

It has also "flabbergasted" the company’s general manager, Mike Dolan, who implored the council in a letter to reconsider a rate increase at its April 2 meeting.

"City staff submitted a variety of rate schedules to the council—all of them below my costs—and the council voted for one of them, and they didn’t even ask me if I was in agreement," Dolan said in an interview.

The new rate structure approved by the city is set up to reward those who generate less garbage with lower rates, so rates increase from the 32-, to 68- to 95-gallon container services. The previous rate had been a flat rate per gallon.

The rate structure approved by the council is $6.91 per month for a 32 gallon container; $17.35 per month for a 68 gallon container; and $32.30 for a 95 gallon container.

Since the new rate constituted a 5 percent increase in fees of which the council did not give prior notice, the new rate could not immediately go into effect. According to Idaho law, fee increases of 5 percent or more must first be noticed and given a public hearing.

To comply with the law, the city has set a public hearing on the rate increase for May 14, postponed from its original date of April 23. Until then, the old rate structure for rubbish pickup will remain in effect.

On April 4, Dolan wrote a letter to the council asking to be on the April 9 meeting agenda because he had "serious concerns regarding the rates that were approved during the April 2 council meeting."

The council put him on the agenda but unanimously refused to revisit the issue at this time.

"I am absolutely flabbergasted with where we are now," Dolan said in an interview. "If the city is wanting to make a social statement about reducing the amount of garbage, they shouldn’t do it at the cost of the franchisee [Wood River Rubbish]."

Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer responded, also in an interview, that "that’s not our intention. He [Dolan] is going to have the chance to make his case when the city hears the rate increase again [on May 14]."

While that makes sense as a matter of paying more for having more garbage hauled away, Dolan said that it makes no sense by business logic. He said the cost of servicing a 32-gallon container is similar to the cost of servicing a 95-gallon container. The major difference is the additional cost of disposal.

Dolan said his costs are primarily based on how many stops his crews have to make, not on the size of a homeowner’s container.

Although the city council voted Monday night not to reconsider its April 2 decision, council members did agree to reconsider the decision in three to six months after they have an opportunity to evaluate its effects.


In other business, the council approved a rezone of the Northridge VII subdivision from limited residential 2 (LR-2) to limited residential 1 (LR-1), and its preliminary plat.

The property is located to the west of the bench north of the Hailey Middle School.

The only difference between the two zones is the minimum lot size—8,000 square feet for LR-1 and 12,000 square feet for LR-2.

In August, the subdivision drew fire from neighboring homeowners because the original rezone request was from limited residential (LR-2) to general residential (GR) which would allow the developer, EMOSA. L.L.C., to build condominiums and duplexes on the parcel.

Bob Brand, who was the unofficial and outspoken spokesman for more than 40 homeowners, was present at Monday night’s council meeting and expressed no objection to the rezone nor the preliminary plat.


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