Moses Lake City Council approves $14K contract to study solid waste utility

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MOSES LAKE - The Moses Lake city council approved a $14,000 contract Tuesday night to fund a cost of service study for the city’s solid waste utility service.

In Moses Lake the fee charged by solid waste contractors increases every Sept. 1, but city documents state the rates have not be set to where they cover the cost of providing the service. As a result, interfund loans have been executed by the city to make up the difference.

“In September 2016, rates were increased 10 percent across the board, and in 2017 there was a 3 percent increase. We anticipate that current rates would at least bring us to a ‘break-even’ result for the 2018 budget,” reads city documents. “Unfortunately, there has been a disruption in both the recycling and yard waste markets, which will likely add costs to the utility that we don’t have the ability to absorb because there are not adequate reserves in this fund.”

As a result, the council gave city staff the go-ahead to engage a consultant with contract talks to review the city’s operations and create a cost of service analysis that breaks down each customer class and type of service. The information gathered, according to the city, will give the council “good” information as the next rate adjustment in September nears.

The contract the city struck with Bell & Associates, Inc., based out of Camas, is for a total of, and not to exceed, $14,230.

“We are looking to have this to come back in the July-first of August time frame,” Finance Director Cindy Jensen told the council Tuesday night.

In addition to the study analyzing the rate structure as it is today, Jensen said the study will also educate the city on what it could do, and what it would look like, to get out of the recycling business altogether and no longer offer the service citizens.

“This was a very transparent proposal,” councilmember Ryann Leonard remarked. “I liked the ‘not to exceed’ so there is no hidden costs that are going to come up later. The timeline seems very doable and in line with what we need to do to make our decisions.”

The council unanimously approved the contract with Bell & Associates in a 7-0 vote.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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