Salem Council to Discuss Garbage Rates and South Salem Micro-Shelter Site

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Residents have the opportunity to speak about Salem’s proposed garbage rate increases at the Salem City Council meeting on Monday.

The council is considering an 8.48% increase in Marion County for rolling cart services and a 10.54% increase in Polk County for rolling cart services.

The proposed increase means that most residential customers in Marion County will see an annual increase of about $32.40, or about $2.70 per month. Polk County customers will see an annual increase of $33.00, or $2.27 per month.

Council is expected to vote on a resolution to increase rates following the public hearing.

The increase would mean the Marion County portion of Salem has the second-highest rate among a comparison of Oregon cities, just after Gresham. Similar-sized Eugene has a monthly rate of $24.65, while Salem-Marion County has a rate of $34.75 and Salem-Polk County has a rate of $29.05.

The proposed increase was made at the request of the Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association, an organization comprised of the six solid waste management haulers serving Salem residents and businesses.

If passed, the rate increases would take effect on January 1.

Medical waste services, container services and drop box services would also see increased costs.

The increase would also coincide with the addition of biweekly service and an increase from 10% to 20% in the reduction on garbage service provided to low-income elderly and disabled customers.

The monthly rate for bi-weekly service for a 20-gallon container would be $22.10 in Marion County and $17.35 in Polk County beginning Jan. 1. The service was added following several requests from community members wanting to cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

The 20% rebate is offered through the city’s utility rate relief program through the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency and is available to residential customers age 60 age and older or disabled, who is the customer named on their account and who has a household income at or below 60% of the state median income.

Carriers attributed the need for the price hike to inflation, rising labor costs and difficulties in the recycling market.

City officials said they regulate fares to simulate competition and avoid monopolistic pricing.

The city follows an industry-wide practice of aiming for a return on pre-tax revenue of 10%, and the council sets rates aimed at “balancing the cost of serving customers with a reasonable expectation of total revenue to support carrier operations,” city staff said in a report on the increase.

A comparison of rate amounts in several Oregon cities.

Funding for a micro-shelter village for the homeless

The council is also due to vote on whether to allocate $750,000 in state shelter grant funds to fund a micro-shelter village in Turner Road SE near Church at the Park.

The money was previously allocated to setting up and operating a secure park program on Front Street, but staff said the location was no longer profitable.

“Start-up expenses will exceed initial projections, leaving less for operations,” city staff said in a report to council. “For example, environmentally friendly sanitation services for up to 40 recreational vehicles require a high initial investment. The lease on the property ends in December 2023. Due to these higher-than-expected costs, invest in the extensive work required to prepare the site is not recommended.”

The Turner Road location was one of three locations the Salem City Council approved for micro-shelters at a Jan. 24 meeting. Another was Front Street. Work is currently underway to move the site from the Village of Hope shelter to the other approved location on Center Street.

The Turner Road location would be the city’s third micro-shelter village, joining the Village of Hope and a family site on Portland Road near Catholic Community Services.

The Park Church, a non-profit organization that already manages the existing microvillages, owns the property on Turner Road.

This expands the shelter’s ability to operate long-term services and maximizes start-up funds, city staff said.

“Operating a micro-shelter village at Turner Road would add this service to South Salem and end on-site walk-in day services, fulfilling the neighborhood’s desire for stability and the city’s priority of ‘expand service points across the city,’ city staff said.

Church at the Park secured $290,000 in foundation grants and community donations for site preparation at the Turner Road location, which reduced the amount of start-up expenditure needed from the city.

An additional $225,997 in annual operating dollars is also available for this location, reducing the demand for operating funds from the city.

The villages are staffed 24 hours a day and are secure. Garbage, meals, showers, portable toilets and connection to health services are provided on site.

The microshelter buildings are already financed. A community effort raised more than $770,000 in donations, enough for at least 154 shelters. Despite sufficient funds, the city struggled to find land to accommodate the villages.

The Turner Road micro-shelter village would provide up to 40 accommodation beds and focus on helping people between the ages of 18 and 24 experiencing homelessness.

According to data and research from local government and advocacy groups, nearly 7,000 young people are at risk of homelessness in Marion and Polk counties. An estimated 1,540 people between the ages of 13 and 24 are already homeless in the region.

After:Local Youth Offering Plan to End Youth Homelessness

Other items on the council’s agenda include:

  • Addition to the budget to purchase ground support equipment for the airport with $540,388 in state grant funds.
  • Agreement with the Town of Turner for the maintenance of traffic control signals and reading sign equipment.
  • Agreement with Marion County to connect Gaia Street SE to Culver Drive SE.
  • Application for a $400,000 federal STOP Violence Against Women program grant for the city’s Domestic Violence Response Team.

Explanation: What are the rules for public meetings and public comment in Oregon?

The meeting is at 6 p.m. It is virtual and can be viewed on Comcast Cable CCTV Channel 21 or on Salem’s YouTube channel in English/American Sign Language and Spanish.

Written public comments on agenda items may be emailed by 5:00 p.m. Monday through [email protected]. Or pre-register between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through cityofsalem.net/Pages/Public-Comment-at-Salem-City-Council-Meeting.aspx speak at the meeting via Zoom.

For questions, comments and topical tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at [email protected]call 503-910-6616 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth



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