As a result of a price increase at the county-operated landfill, trash rates are going up in Hotchkiss.
Trash service is provided by Double J Disposal, which is in its third year of its current five-year contract with the town. The contract allows for rate increases if they can be justified; in this case, Double J cited a 43 percent in tipping fees being charged by the county. That increase took effect Jan. 1; Double J proposes to increase its rates on March 1.
Town clerk Marlene Searle pointed out the increase proposed by Double J is about 15 percent, not the 43 percent it's being charged.
"If you vote to approve the increase, we will have to pass the cost on to our customers," Searle added. "That fund can not absorb the increase; it's simply an in-and-out account."
She added that Double J is increasing prices for all its customers, not just those in Hotchkiss.
Once-a-week pickup will increase from $12.50 to $14 for residential pickup. Commercial prices are determined by the size of the dumpster. For the largest dumpster, prices will increase from $107 to $122 per month. Those prices include a $2 monthly surcharge for the town's administrative expenses.
"We have to pass it along," said trustee Mary Hockenbery. "They have to pay these fees and I don't think $1.50 is that much. They're just trying to recover their expenses."
Several council and staff members expressed their satisfaction with the service provided by Double J. Hockenbery said she's also pleased the town is using a Delta County vendor.
Trustees will consider a resolution formally adopting the new rates at their February meeting.
In other business, trustees signed a memorandum of understanding to provide The Nature Connection with in-kind labor. The agreement formalizes work the town has already done on a bicycle pump track on property owned by the North Fork Pool, Park and Recreation District.
After previously agreeing to allow ShadeScapes to plant up to three trees on Bridge Street, council members reviewed the application process. They decided to let Jo Edmondson, owner of ShadeScapes, proceed with the tree planting with the understanding the trees will be in a CDOT easement. Owens and several council members continue to have reservations about the advisability of planting trees in small concrete openings, although several trees have already been planted in the sidewalks on Bridge Street. Trustees decided the town's tree ordinances should be tweaked before any more applications are approved.
"We need to do a lot more research," Searle said.
In other business, Officer Chad Lloyd reported that the police department is "pretty sure" the juvenile involved in tagging buildings around town has been caught, thanks in part to citizen cooperation. "We want to let future taggers know that behavior won't be tolerated in Hotchkiss," he said.
He added that the "Secret Santa" program provided for 16 families and over 25 children in Hotchkiss. Town Hall staff and the North Fork Ambulance partnered with the Hotchkiss Marshal's Office to provide this service.
Richard Bailey, organizer of the Hotchkiss Sheep Dog Camp Stock Trials, asked for and received a donation of $500 to support the May event. He said the funds will be used for added prize money. He also introduced Gordon Hebenstreit, who is taking over as volunteer coordinator. Volunteers who are interested in assisting with the event, now in its 15th year, are encouraged to contact Hebenstreit.