Mark Johnson, the director of Richmond County Solid Waste, which oversees the garbage collection contract, said today that the decision to go up on the rate was made in the past week after an assessment of costs for the remainder of the year deemed the increase necessary.
The increase will cause a resident's annual bill to go from $287 to $296.50, he said.
Mr. Johnson said it's the second rate increase since Augusta-Richmond County started a new garbage contract in 2006, receiving service from the companies Augusta Disposal, Inland Services and Advanced Disposal. Mr. Johnson said the new rate increase was made recently because tax statements are about to go out and a decision needed to be made.
The last time an increase was made was in 2008, when the yearly rate went from $276 to $287, Mr. Johnson said. Prior to that, when Augusta-Richmond County first took over garbage service in 2000, he said the rate was set at $195. That didn't change, he said, until a new contract was negotiated with haulers, setting the rate in 2006 at $276.
He said that because there was no rate change from 2000 to 2006 even though costs were increasing, that left Augusta with a $2.6 million deficit to overcome.
"We'll call that a lesson learned. So now, as our costs go up we need to adjust our rates accordingly from keeping ourselves from being in that situation again."
Mr. Johnson said the major increase in cost has come from fuel prices.
He said that the $9.50 cent increase per customer should offset the added costs forecast for the remainder of the year. As the system services approximately 60,000 customers, that increase would total about $570,000.
Augusta's current garbage contract isn't set to end until Dec. 31, 2010.