Homeowners in Billings will be paying just over a quarter more a month for garbage collection starting in July.
City Council approved a 2.5% rate increase for solid waste removal, bumping the rate up from $10.98 a month to $11.25 a month, an increase of 27 cents. The 2.5% increase will continue every year until 2024.
In addition to the garbage removal fee increase, the council also took up landfill fees at the meeting. In a surprise move, council members voted to increase fees for non-city residents and out-of-state residents by 15%.
The public works department had recommended the council raise fees for non-residents and out-of-state users by 5%.
The motion, made by Frank Ewalt, who represents the Heights, argued that the city had room in its landfill fee structure to make a bigger increase, noting that it's a city service for which city residents ultimately foot the bill.
He also pointed out that currently Billings' landfill fees for non-residents and out-of-state users are still cheaper than Helena, Bozeman, Great Falls and Kalispell.
The 15% increase would bump non-resident fees to $26.11 per ton and out-of-state fees to $31.40 per ton.
The council also voted to increase its landfill fee for city residents by 5%. City residents pay no fee when they haul their own garbage to the landfill; instead the landfill fee is included in the residents' solid waste removal fee.
Included with the 5% increase was a new $10 fee for those who arrive at the landfill with uncovered loads.
Residents who haul garbage to the dump and show up with an open load will be fined $10 and given a tarp they can use to cover their load on future runs to the dump.
The fee is designed to encourage covered loads and reduce the amount trash that blows off vehicles headed to the landfill, which ends up littering the roadways in the area.