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Residents angry about trash rate increase, county hopeful the price will go back down

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:10 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Residents in unincorporated Jefferson County will have to pay nearly 70% more for trash pickup. The Jefferson County Commission has approved an emergency garbage contract amendment that will cause residential garbage pickup rates to rise.

The change was discussed and approved during Thursday’s commission meeting.

“I retired 13 years ago. I have a pension. I don’t get an increase in my pension ever.”

Lawrence Johnson lives in Mount Olive. He said he’d already begun paying the new rate amount as it was auto debited from his bank account the day after the increase was approved.

“Last year I paid the garbage pickup service $38 to pick up garbage at my house. Then, they went up to $42 in January. Today, last Friday, I got an auto debit on my checking account for $74.95.” Johnson explained.

AmWaste LLC posted the announcement on their website and apologized for the short notice. The company blamed the increase on inflation and gas prices.

“We sincerely apologize for the short time window of this notice.  Due to unprecedented and unforeseeable rising fuel and associated goods and services costs, it is necessary for us to implement an emergency variable fuel adjustment to the base rate. The Birmingham area has recognized a 226% increase in diesel fuel cost in the last 18 months.”

Jefferson County Manager Cal Markert said the new contracted rate with AmWaste would be based on the states fuel index.

“We’re going to evaluate that quarterly. If the price of fuel comes down, there is a price will automatically come down the next quarter,” said Markert.

Markert said the county was hopeful the price of gas would go down.

“We’re hoping that does happen but if not, we’re also looking for ways to rebid this and possibly pick up some other cost savings,” he explained.

The rates for the services below will change:

  • Single Family Residential: quarterly rate rises from $45.15 to $75.70
  • Single Family with Yard Waste: quarterly rate rises from $58.68 to $97.08
  • Back-Door Service (non-disabled): quarterly rate rises $76.20 to $105.75
  • Back-Door Service (disabled): quarterly rate rises from $45.15 to $75.70
  • Additional Cart: quarterly rate stays the same at $46.59

However, Markert said the bids he was seeing from other companies were just as high as the AmWaste bid and that going without trash service was not an option.

“So, we wouldn’t have 25,000 carts of trash sitting on the side of the road for weeks… It would have been a disaster,” Markert said.

Johnson said not only was he concerned about finances but also about illegal dumping, which he believed would increase with the cost of taking the trash out.

“I think the county should be paying for trash pickup using your property taxes. And everybody should be required to have it. and I think it should be $1,000 fine for littering,” Johnson said.

Trash service is not mandatory in Jefferson County but there is a fine for illegal dumping. If caught dumping trash it could cost upwards of $500 in fines.

For people concerned about why everyone in the county isn’t paying the increased rate, Markert said those who live in the city pay a portion of the bill and the city picks up the rest with tax dollars.

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