City proposes fee for trash pickup service

City proposes fee for trash pickup service

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration is proposing a $10 a month fee to pick up refuse, recyclables, green waste and bulky items.

The city says the fee would only apply to those who currently take advantage of the city's refuse service, and not for those who use a private service.

The city's Department of Environmental Services said the fee will only cover a small part of the cost to pick up your refuse, recyclables, green waste and bulky items.

"Our actual expense is over 50 dollars, and so we're only charging ten dollars, so it's only covering about 20 percent of our costs," said Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina. "This is to help offset the city subsidy."

The city also said the fee would help level the playing field when it comes to garbage collection.

"Right now, some residences are paying for services with the private contractors. That's mostly like the townhouses and condos. And others are getting the service for fee from the city, and that's not fair," said Kahikina.

City Council Budget Committee Chair Ann Kobayashi said she'll study the proposal closely to see if it is actually equitable, and if it will make the city's garbage collection more efficient.

"Our trash department has been picking up from certain schools, private schools, certain condominiums, so we have to have a very equitable system," she said.

Honolulu is the only county in the state that doesn't charge for garbage collection. Kauai County residents pay $12 a month; Maui County residents, $18 a month. Hawaii County does not provide public trash pickup. Residents either use a private service or take their trash to the landfills or to transfer centers.

Kobayashi has opposed previous attempts to charge a fee for garbage collection on Oahu, and while she's open to this proposal, there are still concerns.

"People argued that trash pickup is a service that the city is supposed to provide, and if we start charging for trash pickup, are we then going to charge for having a police officer answer a call?"

Kobayashi also said there were questions over what would happen if someone didn't pay the fee. "Do we just have them just leave their trash outside or move it to a neighbor's, whoever is going to pay?"

If passed, the new fee would begin in January 2015. Kahikina said the current plan would be to add the fee to property tax bills.

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