Archive for Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fuel surcharge added to monthly trash bill

August 14, 2008

The De Soto City Council approved last Thursday a request from Weldon Enterprises to pass on the cost of rising fuel costs to its customers in De Soto.

The fuel surcharge was one of two trash related issues the council considered. At the request of City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle, the council also agreed to discontinue the placement of dumpsters for fall and spring cleanup.

Under the agreement approved last week, Weldon will add a surcharge based on the current cost of diesel to De Soto's base monthly trash service charge. The base residential rate is $10.96 a month.

Speaking for the company, Randy Weldon said the company had seen its diesel bill skyrocket in the past six months. That roughly coincides with when the company signed a new contract with the city to provide trash service. That contract allows Weldon to seek cost adjustments should circumstances warrant, Weldon said.

The surcharge request was the first the company has made for a rate adjustment to an existing contract in the 30 years it has provided service to De Soto, Weldon said. It was doing so because diesel fuel has increased 43 percent in the last six months, he said.

But rather than request a fixed-rate increase, the company was asking for a surcharge that would be added to the monthly bill to reflect the current cost of diesel, Weldon said.

The surcharge would be assessed on a sliding scale tied to the U.S. Department of Energy's diesel fuel index and be applied whenever the index indicated diesel averaged $3.66 a gallon or more. If the index indicated diesel cost $4.10 a gallon in July, a 7.25 percent surcharge to the base rate would be applied to the August bill, Weldon said.

The good news is that, like gasoline, diesel prices are falling, Weldon said.

In announcing his opposition to the surcharge, Councilman Ted Morse said many De Soto residents commuted to work and and couldn't pass on those costs.

However, the other council members reluctantly agreed.

"I don't like it, but it's the fairest way to do it," Councilman Mike Drennon said.

In his request that the city discontinue the fall and spring dumpsters, City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle said the dumpsters were popular. But he said the popularity made the city a victim of its own success.

With more and more trash being delivered during the collect days, the city's cost were escalating as more dumpsters were ordered, Guilfoyle said. A report he shared with the council indicated the city's costs increased from $10,670 in 2005 to $13,220 in 2007. Last spring's collection, cost $8,026 - the costliest single seasonal collection to date.

With the rising cost of diesel, the program could become even more of a drain on the city's refuse fund, Guilfoyle said.

The city has not added an administrative fee to Weldon's monthly fee for several years and Guilfoyle did not recommend one in the 2009 budget. Discontinuing the dumpster program, could delay the need to re-introduce a $1 a month administration fee for as least two years, the city administrator said.

A number of council members were reluctant to put an end to the dumpster program. Drennon said it aided the city efforts to clean up the community. But they agreed it was getting too costly and residents were taking advantage of the program to get rid of construction waste.

It was agreed to have Guilfoyle look into other possible recycling initiatives, such as having a scrap metal collector schedule a visit to De Soto.

In other business, the council approved rezoning of 20.88 acres north of 83rd Street just west of the city limits from rural residential to residential suburban.

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