Riverton City Council to review utility rate increases tonight; Residents can offset the increases by recycling

By Ernie Over, managing editor, County10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton City Council Tuesday night will look at increasing utility fees, but one way that city residents can save money on their bills is only being utilized by 800 of the city’s 3,628 residential accounts.  That program is the Certified Recycling Program, where participating residents can save $9 per month on their sanitation bill.

Riverton Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit said the program requires a commitment on the part of the residential user, who receives a recycling container they can put out once a week. Each week a different recycled material would be picked up, which requires residents to store some materials before they can be picked up on its designated week.

Riverton residents signed up for a certified recycling program can save $9 per month on their bills. To gain the savings, card readers are available at each recycling site which can credit each utility account. (Ernie Over photo)

Riverton residents who are signed up for a certified recycling program can save $9 per month on their bills. To gain the savings, card readers are available at each recycling site which can credit each utility account participating in the program. (Ernie Over photo)

“We instituted this to promote recycling in hopes of decreasing the amount of materials going across the scales and ending up in the county’s landfills,” Urbigkit said. He said recycling saves the city some $300,000 a year in fees they pay to the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District. “We could save even more if more people participated. Our goal is to divert 30 percent of recycled materials, right now we’re about 10 to 11 percent.” Urbigkit said when the recycling effort was launched, only three percent of recyclables were diverted from the waste stream, so he said the city is making slow process toward its goal. “It’s a societal change thing, and that always takes time,” Urbigkit said.

The most material that is recycled occurs in the summer with yard waste. The city stockpiles the materials and then offers the compost back to city residents at a small cost. Other recyclables that are collected are delivered to the Community Entry Services Recycling Center for sorting. “CES benefits with jobs and funds they receive from selling the recycled materials, and the city benefits with lower bills from the solid waste district.

One way city residents can obtain the monthly savings is to take their recyclables to the various collection points around town. Each participating certified recycler receives a card with a bar code on it that links to their account. Each time they take recycling to one of the drop off points, they can insert their card into the reader and their utility account will be credited. People who recycle at the collection points, but who are not signed up as a certified recycler, are still helping the city reduce its waste stream, but they don’t receive a discount on their bills.

The City Council indicated during its retreat in January and in subsequent meetings that they want to reduce the city’s debt service, and the retirement of those costs can be accelerated with increases in the fees, he said.

At tonight’s council meeting, Administrative Services Director Courtney Bohlender will lay out the proposed utility rate increases, which include proposed hikes of four percent to the water fund, and two percent each to the sewer and sanitations funds.

Bohlender said the council is required by Riverton Municipal Code to review the rates and charges for the respective leases, usage and service provided on an annual basis. “The municipal code suggests that fees should be adjusted in accordance to the increase of the Consumer Price Index (CPI),” she wrote in a memo to the council. “The annual increase in the CPI is 1.6 percent, and has been rounded to 2 percent for accounting practicality.”

The meeting tonight begins with a pre-meeting at 6:15 p.m. at City Hall, followed by an executive session at 6:30. The regular meeting is slated to begin after the executive session, at 7 p.m.

Also on tonight’s council agenda is approval to write off municipal court fines from defendants who are now deceased, a catering permit application from the LaPeyre Restaurant to cater the annual chamber of commerce banquet at the REACH Foundation clubhouse on April 12th. A Mayor’s Proclamation for National Service will be discussed, as will a resolution in support of increasing the state’s malt beverage tax with revenues to be used for treatment programs and services.