“Can” your extra garbage or be charged extra

Residents of Aberdeen will soon be charged more money when their garbage cans are filled to overflowing.

There’s already an extra charge, but it’s on the honor system and city officials said they want customers to know about new billing policies said to be a more efficient way of charging for extras. Currently, customers phone ahead of collection and report that extra garbage will be set out. Their bills reflect what they report. That “honor system” costs LeMay Inc. money, both for labor to physically pick up the extra bags and in extra pounds the company is charged for dumping the garbage by the ton at a regional landfill, said Paul Dionne, site manager for Aberdeen.

No specific breakout was available on precisely how much the extra hours and unpaid pounds of Aberdeen’s garbage costs LeMay.

LeMay asked that extra charges be levied the same way they bill other clients, City Finance Director Kathryn Skolrood said. Aberdeen sends out bills for LeMay, which provides garbage collection for much of Grays Harbor County.

A flier describing the charges will accompany the Aug. 10 bill. The change starts Sept. 1 after the City Council is asked to approve changes to billing procedures for solid waste collection on Aug. 14.

The new process “is changing to be more in line with the rest of (Grays Harbor) County where we assess a charge in the computer according to what the customer puts out at curbside without the customer calling in advance,” he said.

“If you set it out, you are authorizing us to collect,” Dionne said.

“All extra charges will be determined by the drivers,” the flier says. LeMay will then send a report to cities such as Aberdeen and Westport which will bill the customer accordingly, Dionne said.

He expects the city to reflect LeMay’s practice of giving a one time “mulligan” for a dispute over garbage estimates. The trucks are equipped with cameras and will be used to document the amount of garbage if necessary. “Not everyone’s an Honest Abe or maybe they just don’t know,” he said.

LeMay has used photographic evidence to back up garbage amounts challenged by a commercial customer in Aberdeen he would not name.

The charges depend on how full the bin is or how much extra garbage is put out for biweekly pick up.

No extra charge is levied if “all sides and corners of lid” touch the bin.

If the “lid is slightly raised and garbage is visible, $4.25 will be added to your bill,” the flier states. That amount will also be charged for an extra bag of garbage outside of the bin, Dionne added.

Two extra charges, which total $8.50, will be levied if the lid is raised with garbage visible and “additional items are outside the container.”

Three extra charges, or $12.75, is to be added if the lid is “raised considerably” and additional items are put outside the rectangular bin used by LeMay.

You can also purchase pre-paid garbage bags that hold 32 gallons, at City Hall or at LeMay Enterprises at 4201 Olympic Highway.

The earliest date the council can pass the ordinance is Aug. 14, since the July 31 meeting is cancelled for a workshop. Skolrood said they went ahead with the flier so it could reach clients in advance of the new practice on Sept. 1.

“The Director may determine and impose standard extra charges” for the collection of garbage and add that the director “may consider different categories of improper container use, the approximate quantities of extra material collected, labor costs, and disposal fees in determining the appropriate standard charges,” the proposed changes say.

“This is best practices,” for doing business, Skolrood and Dionne said.

The city processes payments and receives an administrative fee. Mail collection of billing will also be streamlined, coming directly to the city rather than through a post office box in Tacoma. The city will save an estimated $7,128 per year with the change, Assistant Finance Director Sandy Mullin said in an email.