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Trash rates about to ratchet up

A Rogue Disposal employee picks up trash from an east Medford neighborhood in this undated file photo. Trash pick-up rates will increase 9.8% in January. [Mail Tribune file photo]

Trash pick-up rates will jump 9.8% this January in Medford, Phoenix, Jacksonville and Central Point.

Customers of Rogue Disposal and Recycling can expect a $2.01 bump to the current rate of $20.56 a month for a 35-gallon container.

Rural customers of Rogue Disposal can expect even higher rate increases.

Every five years, Rogue Disposal conducts a rate review and seeks approval from city councils for the changes.

Cost-of-living increases have resulted in about half of the increase, said Garry Penning, director of governmental affairs for Rogue Disposal. More government regulations account for much of the remainder.

“Our rates are still very competitive with other like cities around the state,” he said.

At the Dry Creek Landfill, air-quality regulations for methane at the landfill required a half-time person 10 years ago. Now it’s up to the equivalent of 4.5 people and will likely soon go to six, Penning said.

To recover 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.

Other options are being analyzed to capture more of the methane. The flared-off gas has the equivalent energy of 5 million gallons of diesel fuel.

Rogue Disposal isn’t the only company going through rate increases. Penning said Corvallis and Springfield are undertaking a similar process.

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 Rogue Disposal, the largest garbage collection company in Jackson County.

Despite 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. Corvallis’s rate is $22.86 a month.

The Dry Creek Landfill 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.