Athens’ city council approves the trash rate increases

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Athens residents will see at least a $7 increase in their monthly garbage rates come the new year.

The Athens City Council voted 6-1 Monday to approve the increase to pay for the city’s new contract with Rumpke Waste and Recycling, which begins Jan. 1.

The City of Athens is raising the price of waste management services for residents as recycling containers are seen in Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.
The City of Athens is raising the price of waste management services for residents as recycling containers are seen in Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. [Joseph Scheller | WOUB]
Customers under the one-can rate will now pay $22.53 per month, and the two-can rate will be $31.15 per month. Customers currently on the two-can rate who want the one-can rate must ask for it, otherwise they will be charged the two-can rate.

Councilmember Sam Crowl voted against the new rates. Crowl also opposed the city’s decision to choose Rumpke as the new garbage collector.

The city received bids from Cincinnati area-based Rumpke and Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers, which provided trash and recycling service for the city for several decades.

Rumpke’s bid was significantly lower, however Crowl was among those who favored staying with AHRC because it is a local company that has long worked with the city on its sustainability goals.

City officials also took the opportunity at Monday’s meeting to clear up misinformation spreading in the community about the new contract.

Crowl said composting pickup service will still be available under Rumpke.

Also, recycling and composting will continue to go to AHRC for processing.

AHRC said Rumpke has agreed to continue bringing the city’s recycling and composting to its facility until August 2024 and maybe till the end of next year. After that, this material may go to Rumpke’s own processing facility in Columbus.

Councilmember Micah McCary asked Service-Safety Director Andy Stone what will happen to the thousands of existing trash and recycling cans since under the new contract Rumpke will be providing customers with new cans. Stone said some cans will end up in the landfill because they are too contaminated and others may be recycled.

Mayor Steve Patterson cleared up a rumor he heard that city leaders are not interested in the creation of a council of governments (COG) to handle garbage collection instead of contracting this out to a private company.

“That’s not accurate,” he said. “If that were to happen and there were other municipalities within Athens County or beyond who are interested in a COG related to solid waste, I would be more than interested.”

Crowl mentioned that Athens County’s Future Action Network will be hosting a public forum tonight to discuss the creation of a COG.

The forum will take place in Room A of Athens Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m.

The council also had the first reading of an ordinance allowing the city’s Shade Tree Commission to partner with Ohio University on an application for a federal grant.

The grant would go toward planting a food forest at the West State Park, located at the end of West State Street.

Gene Deubler, a member of the commission, said the food grown would serve research and community needs.

He said the forest would consist of native fruiting trees, fruiting shrubs and perennials that “will serve as both a public site for enjoyment and also contribute to food security projects here in southeast Ohio.”

The ordinance will be up for a second reading at next Monday’s meeting. The rules requiring three readings before a vote will likely be suspended so the commission can submit its application before the Dec. 29 deadline.