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Trash rates could go up

The cost for trash pickup could soon jump 10% under a rate increase proposed by Rogue Disposal and Recycling.

Medford City Council is reviewing a $2.01 hike to the current rate of $20.56 a month for a 35-gallon container.

If approved by the council, the increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

A similar rate increase five years ago was driven by changes in the recycling market, specifically China’s decision to no longer accept many recycled materials from other countries.

This time regulatory changes have helped fuel the rate hikes.

“There’s more and more air quality regulations coming down,” said Gary Penning, director of governmental affairs for Rogue Disposal.

Storm water regulations have also contributed to the rate increase.

In 2008, the equivalent of 1.5 full-time employees handled storm water and air quality regulations. Now it’s four employees.

To recover the methane from the Dry Creek Landfill, it used to require 50 wells, but now there are 250, Penning said.

Much of the methane is recovered to generate electricity to power the equivalent of 3,000 houses, but some of it has to be flared off, a process that requires careful monitoring and recording.

Rogue Disposal is looking at other options to capture this methane. The flared-off gas has the equivalent energy of 5 million gallons of diesel fuel.

Other cost drivers contribute to Rogue Disposal’s request for a rate increase.

A new corporate activity tax was signed into law in 2019 by Gov. Kate Brown.

Wages have gone up for drivers, mechanics and others working at Medford-based Rogue Disposal, the largest garbage collection company in Jackson County.

Penning said that even with the rate hike, customers will still be at the low end of the scale compared to other cities across the state.

Grants Pass residents pay $22.94 a month for trash pickup.

Ashland residents pay $21.29 a month, and Portland is at $33.15.

Albany residents also pay $20.56 a month.

On the low end, Bend is one of the cheapest cities in the state at $16.48.

If the increase is approved for Medford, the rate will be close to Corvallis’s $22.86 a month.

By January, Penning said he anticipates many of the other locations in the state will likely see increases as well. Penning said his company goes through a rate review every five years.

Rogue Disposal operates the Dry Creek Landfill, which is also used by Southern Oregon Sanitation and Recology, two other garbage collection companies that serve Jackson County. The landfill, which is expected to last 100 years, is located near Eagle Point on 960 acres.

Southern Oregon Sanitation offers trash collection in Eagle Point, Rogue River and other rural areas of the county. Recology serves the Ashland area.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.