Thursday, June 17, 2021
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Fort Worth

Council Report: Discussion on rates for environmental, solid waste and stormwater

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During Tuesday’s work session, the Fort Worth City Council received a briefing to update members on a review of rates for environmental, solid waste, and stormwater as the council prepares to discuss the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

Solid waste rates were established in 1982 to fund all solid waste management operations for garbage collections and waste disposal by the city. Since, there have been 15 rate changes and the rates have come to include a variety of other duties, such as recycling, bulk collection, illegal dumping, homeless cleanup and more.

“This is the last meeting before we get to talk about budget stuff,” City Manager David Cooke said. “I want to telegraph some things ahead of time so we start thinking about some of the needs we’re going to talk about in these areas.”

The rates are facing a series of challenges, Cooke noted:

*Environmental – Compliance with environmental laws and mandate. A growing list of potential environmental related projects. Higher costs for environmental improvement/cleanup projects. Cost of resources to comply with environmental laws.

*Solid waste – It is 99% funded by residential rates. Over time, the fund has added several functions, the most recent being homeless camp abatement in 2016 and street sweeping in 2017. Under current conditions, revenues will not cover expenditures with drop in recycling. Landfill revenues need to be modified to include capital reserve for a future landfill.

*Stormwater – Rising maintenance cost of infrastructure. Operating costs are competing with capital needs. Revenues will not cover growing capital and capital maintenance needs.

Several policy considerations are being considered:

*Environmental – Cover additional programs or shifted programs. Appropriate level of capital funding vs. operating. Level of response to various regulations. City facility/land environmental hazard abatements.

*Solid waste – Identify a proper funding source for added programs. Align fees with appropriate payers. Future disposal. Reserve requirement.

*Stormwater – Identify appropriate level of capital improvements and capital maintenance. Establish debit/cash corporation. Identify rate options to address capital improvements and capital maintenance needs.

Environmental rates were established in 1995 for disposal of environmental wastes and environmental programs/services that are required by state or federal mandates. There have been no rate changes in its history and services are consistent with the original intent.

Stormwater rates were established in 2007 to maintain the drainage system, mitigate and warn of flood and erosion hazards, and review private development for compliance with drainage standards. There have been four rate changes and the original intent has been maintained.

Current environmental monthly rates are 50 cents for residential, 75 cents for non-profit and government, $10 for commercial, and $35 for industrial. Revenue for 2019 is $4.2 million.

Current solid waste monthly rates are $12.50 for 32 gallons, $17.50 for 64 gallons, and $22.75 for 96 gallons. Revenue for this year is $60.5 million, excluding recycling.

Current stormwater rates are $5.40 per 2,600 square feet of impervious surface, with 2019 revenue being $40.3 million.

Next steps will include introducing policy options during the upcoming budget process for the council, having policy discussion and gather public input in the fall, and make fee structures (if there are any) during the first quarter of 2020.

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