SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council is expected to vote Monday on increasing garbage collection rates and ending the senior discount.
Under the proposed ordinance changes, the base rate for solid waste collection would increase from $16.30 to $16.63 per month. The extra container fee would increase by 6 cents to $3.05 per container, while solid waste stickers would cost 8 cents more, $1.08.
In December 2015, the council amended a contract with Gill Hauling Inc. to allow an annual 2 percent increase in solid waste collection fees. Solid waste collection rates, which were last increased in January 2016, have remained steady for three years. The collection rate increases will accommodate the increase in contract costs payable to Gill Hauling, according to city documents, and generate additional revenue for Environmental Services Division activities.
If the council approves the changes, some 4,200 seniors, who are currently charged $12.05 a month, would pay the regular base rate for solid waste collection, an increase of $4.58 a month.
According to Melissa Campbell, an environmental services analyst for the city, staff hadn't recognized in the past that the senior discount could be putting the city at risk for a class action lawsuit. Other Iowa cities also stopped offering senior discounts after the state auditor's office released a report in August 2016 on a special investigation of the Cascade Municipal Utilities.
"We don't necessarily want to make this change. I know it's going to be unpopular, but we do have to follow state law," Campbell said.
According to the state auditor's report, providing discounted utility service to certain customers based on age is considered a discriminatory rate and does not comply with requirements established by section 388.6 of the Code of Iowa, which states that: "A city utility or a combined utility system may not provide use or service at a discriminatory rate, except to the city or its agencies."
"As a result, the city is required to establish and provide consistent billing rights to all customers," Campbell said.