Whitefish City Council Votes on Garbage Service Rate Increase

Public Works Director Craig Workman said at a recent council meeting that he was working with Republic Services to continue trash pickup in alleyways.

By Mike Kordenbrock
A black bear digs through a dumpster in Whitefish. Photo courtesy of FWP

The Whitefish City Council voted on June 20 by a 5-to-1 margin to approve increased monthly rates for garbage pickup from Republic Services.

Monthly rates will increase $6.47 from $10.78 a month to $17.25 a month, and the increased costs are being driven by a citywide ordinance requiring bear-resistant garbage containers that was adopted in May. In March, city staff had been directed to amend the city’s current contract with Republic to include animal resistant containers.

The rate for monthly pickup once a week of a 95-gallon bear resistant container is $15.75, but the city has also tacked on a $1.50 administrative fee to cover the increased costs of administrative services, including for utility billing software.

Councilor Giuseppe Caltabiano was the lone vote against approving the fee increase.

Responding to questions from Councilor Steve Qunell about the price increase, City Manager Dana Smith explained that the administrative fee had increased by 50 cents, and that the city was still below the $2 administrative fee it had charged as recently as 2015. She also noted that the city has not increased rates the last couple of years, but that Republic has, to the tune of 3%. 

Craig Workman, the public works director for the city, said that he had recently met with Republic about continuing alleyway service for current customers whose garbage containers are located in alleyways behind their residence. Numerous residents have addressed the council about their issues with the new curbside trash pickup requirements for the bear-proof containers.

“The primary contention of course being that those that do not have streetside driveways will have considerable problems getting their containers out to the curb, especially during winter,” Workman said. “I think there’s also very legitimate concerns about parking preventing Republic from being able to provide curbside service.”

Workman noted that Republic does face challenges already with trash pickup in Whitefish, and said that going forward it would require a strict set of guidelines to maintain alley service for customers currently receiving it and that he’s working with Republic on establishing those guidelines.

“Republic does acknowledge the public pressure that we’re under to maintain alley service and they are willing to work with us to maintain alley service for customers that are currently provided alley service,” Workman said.

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