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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Recycle cans are lined up next to regular trash cans line Maisons Drive in Little Rock in this 2012 file photo.

The Little Rock Board of Directors is scheduled to vote today on new rates for curbside trash pickup and recycling.

If city directors approve the proposed rate ordinance, the cost of once-a-week, single-cart residential garbage pickup in Little Rock will increase from $22.02 to $28.90 per month.

The proposed increase is in line with recommendations that consulting firm Burns & McDonnell presented to the city board in August. The city hired the firm to do a garbage fee study in late 2018, Public Works Director Jon Honeywell said.

The new rates would take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

If passed, it would be the city's first curbside pickup rate increase since 2004. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and City Manager Bruce Moore both noted how long it had been since the city had raised its rates.

"When you look at everything we've added and plus just the additional cost ... it's a very viable recommendation," Moore said in August while highlighting services the city provides in addition to picking up garbage carts, which include yard waste and neighborhood roll-off services.

The study concluded that the city's current residential and landfill rates are "insufficient" to fully recover the city's cost of service for fiscal 2019 and beyond.

The new residential rate would put Little Rock's rate above the Pulaski County rate of $25.02. It would be lower than the $29.26 base rate in Denton, Texas, and the $51.80 rate in Austin, Texas. Little Rock already had a higher rate than Tulsa; Olathe, Kan.; and Jackson, Miss., according to numbers provided by Burns & McDonnell.

The proposed legislation also limits bulky-item pickup to one free item per residence per year, with additional service available for $25 per collection up to 2 cubic yards and an additional $10 per cubic yard for debris exceeding that. Scott cited a statistic that 88 percent of Little Rock residents use the bulk pickup service only once, and 12 percent "abuse it."

"We will make certain behaviors change. We have to have a behavior that all will be clean in this city and we won't stand for it," Scott said in response to complaints from Ward 6 City Director Doris Wright during a recent discussion session about people leaving large items on the curb in her district for weeks on end.

The proposed ordinance also establishes a $50 fee for contamination of a recycling container, or the violating customer must forfeit the right to curbside recycling for one year at minimum.

Several city directors said they wanted the city to resume offering glass recycling, which it stopped in April because of a new contract between Waste Management and the cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood. That contract expires in April 2021.

Scott said in August that a request for qualifications for a glass-recycling provider was underway, and that if that process results in a recycling rate increase that change also would take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Metro on 09/17/2019

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