yakima garbage truck

A garbage truck driver for city of Yakima refuse division picks up trash bins along Willow Street in June 2017. (SHAWN GUST/Yakima Herald-Republic file)

Yakima residents could see their garbage bills increase slightly in 2021 to allow city staff to keep up with increasing solid waste costs and operations.

Loretta Zammarchi, Yakima’s refuse and recycling manager, proposed to the Yakima City Council on Thursday an annual solid waste rate increase of 3.5% through 2025 as part of the department’s five-year plan.

For customers who have a

96 gallon cart — which Zammarchi said is about 78% of customers — it would mean an increase of about $0.75 per month, effective Jan. 1, bringing the monthly service to $21.85.

For customers who have a 32-gallon cart, the increase will be $0.60 per month, or a total of $19.10 monthly for the services.

Customers who subscribe to the city’s 96-gallon cart for yard waste will see an increase of $0.40, bringing the monthly total to $17.55.

Zammarchi said the increases would bring in an anticipated $511,000 of additional revenue in 2021, which would allow the city to cover anticipated increases in Yakima County landfill tipping fees and operational costs.

Postponing the rate increase would result in insufficient funding to sustain the city’s current level of solid waste services, she added.

The council still has to vote to approve the plan and the increased rates.

Zammarchi added that shifts in recycling markets anticipated to take place over the next several decades could increase the demand for recycled materials, and open up opportunities for the city to possibly offer curbside recycling.

“The division continually monitors the market plan for the likelihood of providing curbside collection to city residents,” she said.

A looming dilemma for the solid waste division is the Terrace Heights landfill reaching capacity and closing, estimated for 2027.

Zammarchi noted that Yakima County, which owns the landfill, has talked about expanding the landfill by transferring waste to the Cheyne Landfill in Zillah but has set no firm plans. Transferring Yakima’s waste to the Cheyne landfill would require an additional 25 miles of transport, and also would raise disposal costs from about $15 per ton to $25 per ton.

The rate increase would also help the city be better positioned to weather those changes, Zammarchi said.

Reach Lex Talamo at ltalamo@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.