City council meeting

RENSSELAER — Rensselaer residents can expect new trash bins after the first of the year.

The Rensselaer City Council recently approved the purchase of 2,200 96-gallon bins and 335 35-gallon bins at a cost of $130,473.40 from Republic Service of DeMotte.

Jerry Lockridge of the city’s street and sanitation department said he expects the green bins with black lids to be ready for distribution by the end of the year.

The smaller bins will be reserved for seniors ages 65 and older, while everyone else will receive the 96-gallon bins. There was a discussion that couples under the age of 65 who produce smaller amounts of trash should be allowed to pick whichever bin they want, but Lockridge said that would create problems when billing is done.

He added that some communities don’t give their residents a choice of what size they get. Everyone in that community must use the larger bin, ignoring the amount of trash that is produced at each household.

Households who rely on the city to collect their trash will see a slight increase in their trash rate after the first of the year. It will increase from $17.85 a month for 2021 to $18.40 in 2022, with another increase set for 2023.

Seniors who wish to receive the smaller bins will pay half of the regular residential fee or $9.20 per month. If city employees find the 35-gallon bin is overflowing with trash from a certain residence, they will require the homeowner to switch to the 96-gallon bin.

The amount helps the city pay for the bins, pay employees hired to collect trash and purchase tippers to be installed on trash trucks.

“We don’t make money with this,” Mayor Steve Wood said of the fees collected. “We did this so that we don’t lose money.”

The city approved establishing trash serve as a utility in a previous meeting. Because the city no longer subsidies the cost to pick up trash when it eliminated the sticker program last year, the rates have to be high enough to cover costs.

With the city authorizing a monthly fee, it eliminates the need for a private company that will charge more to pick up trash.

City officials also discussed the first reading of the gas rate ordinance, which restructures rates so that most people pay more in the summer and less in the winter. A public hearing on the rates will be held next month.

Carol Lockridge of the city’s gas department notified council members that residents will see an increase of 31 cents per hundred cubic feet in natural gas to start the winter months. This increase, which is the biggest increase in four years, reflects what the city pays in natural gas.

A customer’s bill this winter could see a significant increase if the area experiences colder-than-normal winter weather and the price of natural gas continues to rise. According to some analysts, if winter weather deviates from what customers have experienced over the past couple of years it could trigger a price spike not seen since 2008.

The council opened bids for gasoline, diesel and tire repair in preparation for 2022. The bids were taken under advisement with a committee recommendation to come at the next meeting.

Wood also read a proclamation recognizing Steve Touhy and Chrissy Martin of WLQI radio’s morning show for winning Best Broadcast Personality or Team at a recent awards program.

Council members also approved the use of $200 from the city’s public relations fund to prepare a float for the Christmas parade on Dec. 4. The council also approved police chief Matt Anderson’s request to begin looking for a new squad car and authorized the fire department to switch to a different billing company after its old company closed its business.

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