The cost of taking out the trash is going down.

Residential utility customers within the city limits will see a one dollar per month reduction in the cost of weekly trash service, thanks to cost-cutting changes that have led to record profits at the Sanitation Department over the last year.

According to Matt Mueller, assistant city manager, the “profit of the sanitation department has increased by 131 percent” due to significant improvement in the efficiency and level of service in that department. According to a hand-out provided by City administrators, the Sanitation Department has already seen profits increase from $238,313.03 in fiscal year 2005-2006 to $548,531.06 in fiscal year 2006-2007.

“This was done not through increased revenues, but decreased costs,” Mueller said.

The 8 percent rate reduction translates into an annual savings of $86,000 to residential trash customers.

City councilors unanimously approved the ordinance making the reduction in fees to become effective in mid April.

City Manager Troy Powell echoed the congratulations and appreciation expressed by members of the City Council when the announcement was made.

“This item is the result of all the hard work our Sanitation guys have put in restructuring their operation,” Powell said.

Powell called the fee reduction a “significant step” in the city’s focus on creating efficiency and accountability in every department.

“If you recall, just over a year ago we thought we would need a rate increase, and we discussed the things we (were) going to try and incorporate before we took that step,” Powell said. “I am very proud of the Sanitation Department and the great administrative work from Tim (Miller) and Matt (Mueller). This is a testament to the great things we can accomplish when we focus on our core businesses and efficiency.”

Miller is the city’s utility supervisor.

The Sanitation Department was named Department of the Year during the annual city awards event earlier this year.

Heading the Sanitation Department is Foreman Daryl Simon and Superintendent Donnie Burgess

Miller said sanitation workers are “some of the hardest working people in the city, efficiency wise.”

During a recent Council tour of the Sanitation Department, Miller explained how operational changes at the Sanitation Department have contributed to cost savings: Trash pick-up routes were analyzed to reduce the number of residential trucks on the road from four to three and a “pay for what you throw system” was implemented.

City trash routes are now divided into three equal sections, eliminating the need for overlapping routes and still providing consistent pickup over a five-day work week.

The “pay for what you throw” system also makes additional sanitation services available for those who require such services, but does not burdened those who do not need additional service with the extra costs.

Customer service improvements have also been adopted.

Other changes are in store for the Sanitation Department employees. The department’s truck fleet and office operations will move to the more centralized city services complex on Ramm Road in about 30 days.

This will provide access to maintenance and service, as well as protective storage facilities for the department’s truck fleet.

For the time being, free drop off for brush and trash will remain at the old sanitation yard (on Owalla) until it is moved some time in August. The hours for drop-off are 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 to 11 a.m. on Saturday. Curbside pickup is available for a fee.

pay-for-what-you-use — how it works:

Additional polycarts in the past were sold to city residents for $50, now the city provides additional carts at $3 monthly charge per cart.

Bulk/Brush services are now available at curbside (for a fee) or (free) self-service drop off at the Sanitation Department site on north Owalla Street.

Chipping services “at the curb” are also available at $20 per hour.

Bulk trash pick-up can be arranged for $10 per load.

A city-coded bag system is also in place. Customers can purchase specially marked trash bags at Wal-Mart and the City Sanitation office for $1.25 each ($12.50 for 10), cost of bag includes pick up.

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