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Tucsonans could face rate increase on garbage bill

Posted at 5:43 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 12:32:07-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Recycling costs cutting into the city budget. It could mean money out of your wallet for trash pickup. The Tucson Director of Environmental Services Carlos De La Torre says he plans to recommend a rate increase, taking glass out of the curbside program, and the city using more recycled materials.

They've already gone down to picking up recycling every other week, but Carlos De La Torre says he's planning to recommend a rate increase and taking glass out of the curbside program.

“Any tonnage we can recycle or divert and not make its way out here it’s a gain for us to extend the life of the landfill,” said De La Torre.

But De La Torre says recycling today costs more than it used to. He will be recommending a rate increase to city council.

“Our garbage rates are $18.33 and Phoenix just moved up to $29.72 a month,” said Vice Mayor Paul Cunningham. “So, we are about $11 less. Thats a significant difference. I’m not saying we need to go as high as Phoenix but we need to take a look at our rates.”

Vice mayor Paul Cunningham says he's open to ideas to fix the problem saying one way to curb costs is for the city to use some recycling materials for roads.

“We'd love to be able to take our glass and plastic and use the raw material for roads. I think we could do that right away and I think we should look at how we recycle paper and what we do with it.”

De La Torre says people can help at home by keeping recycling bins filled with only cardboard, plastic bottles, and aluminum and tin cans. He says a third of the recycling they collect is contaminated with other garbage and can't be used.

“The whole intent is how can we reduce our operating costs so we can offset the need to increase rates that significantly,” said De La Torre.

De La Torre says he'll be making a comprehensive recommendation including raising rates to city council by the summer or fall. Cunningham says it's too early to say if he is for raising rates, and is seeking input from the public.