Price of pay-as-you-throw trash bags expected to increase along with Concord water and sewer rates

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 06-02-2023 4:51 PM

With inflation everywhere, Concord residents can expect to pay more to live in the city than just higher taxes – they will see the cost go up for pay-as-you-throw purple trash bags as well increases in water and sewer rates if city councilors adopt the proposed budget on Monday.

The city just signed a new solid waste contract, which includes new fees per ton of recycled material.

“We have some major changes starting next year with the first year of the solid waste contracts, which will include a loss of revenue,” City Manager Tom Aspell said at a budget public hearing Thursday night. “But the pilot program for automatic collection begins in 2025 and that will move the city forward for the next 10 years to be more inline with other communities.”

Councilors will be asked to increase the small purple bag price from $1.25 to $1.60 and the large purple bag price from $2.50 to $3.20, which will bring an additional $420,000 to the city in revenue.

During public comment, Ron Raynor asked about providing the community with more incentives to recycle, education on recycling and eliminating contamination from recycled materials.

“We are going from zero dollars per ton for recycled materials for the past decade to $100 per ton for disposal at the same rate as trash,” he said. “Why bother if we’re going to pay the same for both? I accept the higher costs but I feel it will diminish our incentive to improve recycling rates.”

Raynor suggested the city either freeze the bag rate at the current rate of $2.50 or raise the funds coming out of the general fund to encourage residents to maintain good recycling habits, improve recycling rates and diminish contaminant loads.

Water and sewer

City residents can expect to see a 4.5% increase for city water services and a 5% increase for city wastewater services, which will impact the average home by $1.12 and $2 a month, respectively.

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The cost of city water services have increased by $469,000, or 6.6%, due to wage increases, contract negotiations, utility costs and chemical treatments, which are up by $225,000. The cost of city wastewater services have increased by $1.3 million, or 13.7%, due to the same reasons but are expected to reach $15.1 million by the end of the decade.

To mitigate the rate increase, city officials are looking to lengthen the bond repayment from 20 years to 25 years for infrastructure and water projects, Aspell explained. Compared to surrounding cities, Concord has the fourth lowest rate.

Golf Course Fund

Non-residents utilizing the services of the Beaver Meadow Golf Course should be pay higher rates than residential costs, said Councilor Stacey Brown.

“Memberships are $600 to $700 less than other golf courses and for Concord residents who are paying taxes, it costs more for them to play at Beaver Meadow than someone from Bow,” she continued. “I would strongly recommend we look at increasing rates for non-Concord residents because it’s so low and the course has changed so much and Concord residents are paying for it.”

The Golf Advisory Board, which meets again in July, is hoping to look at rate increase for non-residents and return to city council for guidance, Aspell said.

If approved, this year’s proposed golf fund, which is supported by fees and revenue generated at the course, will increase from $1.4 million to $1.58 million to include repairs and maintenance, compensation and benefits, league and tournament expenses and fuel costs, Aspell explained. However, funding for a new clubhouse was not included and is anticipated for next year.

Overview

Councilors will convene on Monday to make any changes to the budget and approve the city’s spending plan. This will be the last time the public will have a chance to comment and make suggestions.

If approved without changes, the city’s total spending would increase by 5.7% from $123.1 million to $130.1 million The proposed 4% tax increase for residents would mean an extra $108 per year for a home worth $300,000.

Compared to last year, employee compensation increased by more than $2 million – $1.6 million in payroll while benefits will increase by $446,000. The city will use nearly $900,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for employee salaries and benefits to lower the impact on taxpayers.

“If you’re wishing to testify, please come Monday to share your thoughts with us,” Mayor Jim Bouley said at the close of the meeting. “This will be the last opportunity before we take action.”

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