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Solid Waste Department Details Request for Residential Rate Change

First increase since 2014 needed to maintain service levels up against increasing demand and increasing costs of recycling.

Today the Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) released the details of their request for a residential rate increase for the remainder of FY21’s budget. The increase would raise residential trash and recycling collection costs by $1.55 per month and if approved would take effect January 2021. The department has not raised residential trash and recycling collection rates since 2014 and the increase only applies to property owners.

“It’s been a challenging year for everyone and our department is not immune to that,” stated Matthew Whelan, Director of the Solid Waste Management Department. “By asking our customers to pay just over $1 more every month, we can keep the high standard of service we offer on a daily basis, even up against skyrocketing costs for our department.”

SWMD is facing higher demand for residential services and a major drop in paid commercial pickups during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an increase in recycling costs over a three-year period. The combined impact of these factors is an estimated revenue loss of $1.6 million to the department’s enterprise fund. Residential refuse and recycling pickups have increased 22%, from 778 tons of refuse in August of 2019 to 874 tons in August of 2020. Back-end costs for recycling have risen from $350,000 in 2017 to $3.6 million in 2020. Even as departments in other cities have raised rates, cut services, or both, the City of Albuquerque has done neither.

Funds generated from the residential rate increase will sustain recycling services, the department’s median maintenance work, COVID-related increases in home refuse and support the department’s coordinated response to address homelessness and homeless camps.

SWMD is also proposing a change to the rate ordinance legislation to give the department flexibility around commercial collection rates, up to five percent annually to support ever-changing market costs.

Total proposed revenue from the residential rate increase for the remainder of FY21 will be approximately  $1.5 million.