Aztec's new solid waste contract means increased costs for residents
City Commission approves contract with new provider
AZTEC — Aztec residents likely will see their utility rates go up between $3.47 and $10.93 a month due to a new contract for solid waste services.
Earlier this month, the City Commission approved a new contract with Waste Management of New Mexico. Aztec has previously contracted with WCA Transit Waste. WCA offered the city lower rates than Waste Management of New Mexico. Aztec chose Waste Management rather than WCA, citing problems it had with communication and employee turnover at WCA.
The new contract will begin March 1. The contract is for four years with the city having the option of renewing it for four more years once it expires.
The City Commission had a work session Tuesday to discuss the new contract.
What are the current rates for residents?
Aztec residents currently pay $10.53 monthly for a single trash bin that is picked up on a weekly basis. They also pay $2.35 for a single-stream recycling center that is located on Ash Street near the library. In addition to offering recycling services, the center offers residents a place to drop off yard waste like trimmed branches from trees.
What will the new rates be?
The City Commission will need to adopt an ordinance raising solid waste rates. The ordinance likely will raise the rate for the single trash bin to $14 each month. Residents will continue to pay $2.35 each month for the recycling center as long as the city continues to offer that service. However, Aztec may choose to phase out the recycling center if it pursues curbside recycling.
How will curbside recycling impact bills?
If Aztec chooses to have twice-a-month curbside recycling, residents will pay an additional $7.46 each month. That would mean residents would pay $23.81 monthly for recycling and trash services. That would decrease to $21.46 once the recycling center is phased out.
Several commissioners expressed concerns with the price increase.
Commissioner Sherri Sipe said the area is facing economic uncertainties with the planned closure of the San Juan Generating Station and its associated San Juan Mine. She said she likes the idea of curbside recycling, but she is concerned residents on fixed incomes may struggle to pay their bills if curbside recycling is added.
She said the increase for curbside recycling would come on top of planned utility rate increases, such as an increase in the electric rate that is scheduled to go into effect this summer.
“If people are moving out because they can’t afford to live here, then that's not a good thing, either,” Sipe said.
Mayor Victor Snover said curbside recycling is important to the community.
“I think we need to try and change behaviors,” Snover said.
He said the city needs to encourage people to recycle rather than throw out items like plastics. Snover said the added convenience of curbside recycling may be enough to spur recycling within the city.
“We’re not growing more land to dump our trash,” he said.
Commissioner Austin Randall said he was less concerned with changing the culture than he is with providing service to residents.
"I just want the best trash service at the cheapest price and then move from there," he said.
He said if the city likes the service Waste Management provides, it could discuss recycling at a later date.
The City Commission likely will discuss the trash rates during its 6 p.m. Feb. 12 meeting.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at email@example.com.