Garbage rate hike in Sunnyside put on hold

The Sunnyside City Council ended up in a 3-3 draw last night when it came to raising the monthly garbage bills by 25 percent for citizens in 2009.

Monday night's duel was sparked because city staff is seeking a raise in rates above and beyond the 21 percent spike in cost increases for Yakima Waste Systems, the company Sunnyside contracts with for residential garbage service.

City Manager Eric Swansen explained the additional 4 percent is because of cost increases the city is facing in terms of personnel and supplies. The proposed hike would have meant about $2 more per month for a household that sets out three cans of garbage per week.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock wanted to see more specific information about how the city would spend its portion of the extra money. Further, she noted that under a proposed contract amendment with Yakima Waste, Sunnyside will keep two more percent of the proceeds from garbage collection fees and wanted to know how that was going to be spent.

Councilman Tom Gehlen also echoed the call for more information, and shared Hancock's concerns that information was being added to council agenda packets too late in the week for council to have adequate time to review it.

Councilwoman Carol Stone added that late addition of so much material makes it appear there is an effort by staff to flood council with so much late documentation that ordinances and motions will be approved without a thorough look-see.

Councilman Bill Gant countered that all costs are increasing and called on his city council colleagues to trust the people they hired to do the job.

Stone, Hancock and Gehlen voted down the garbage rate increase, while Gant, Mayor Paul Garcia and Councilman Jim Restucci approved the increase. The 3-3 tie meant the motion died due to lack of a council majority.

Mayor pro tem Bruce Epps was absent during this portion of the city council meeting to tend to a family matter and was not available to vote.

This won't be the last council sees of the garbage issue, as Swansen said the city council will need to convene a special meeting sometime this month to agree on a new garbage rate by the end of the year for its contract with Yakima Waste Disposal.


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