By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Higher garbage pickup rates were approved by the Keizer City Council on Monday, June 21.

The Mid-Valley Garbage and Recycling Association sought a 7 percent increase on pickup rates. The last cost-based increase – that is, one that didn’t come without additional services – was in 1992, documents indicate.

Commercial rates will not be affected by the change. Drop box rates will increase to match that of the City of Salem.

For example, customers with a 20-gallon garbage can without yard debris pickup would see a 77-cent monthly increase. Add the yard debris can and the total rate increase is $1.12. For 35-gallon customers the rate increase is $1.24 per month, and for 65-gallon it’s $1.69 per month.

Estle Harlan, a consultant for the association, said that the rates would still be “very good” even with the increase.

“It will bring them into a good business margin that will make them able to do business well,” Harlan added. “It’s a business decision.”

The City of Keizer will consider in July a move that would add compost pickup to residential service.

A document haulers provided to the council showed that, since 1998, insurance rose 44 percent, the price of trucks went up 51 percent, registration costs for vehicles were up 142 percent, and fuel was up 143 percent.

The change was approved unanimously, but Councilor Mark Caillier questioned the wisdom of seeking a 7 percent increase in one year. He said he would have preferred to see two or more gradual increases.

“It would have been better,” Caillier said.

Councilor Richard Walsh preferred the haulers’ approach.

“It saves us money,” he said. “At least we got the benefit of not paying 4 percent for the last five years.”

“I hate to see any rate increase, but I’m going to be realistic,” Councilor David McKane said. “I can’t think of anything I could buy 18 years ago I can buy today (at the same price).”

In other business:

• Residents on Benevan Court won’t be charged for a street lighting district.

City staff chose not to establish the district – which adds costs to property taxes in order to pay for street lights – because there were no lights on the street. Residents came to a city council meeting in May to contest the change.The tiny, dead-end street is off of Harmony Drive, where the closest light is. [MAP: 8]

“I agree with the neighbors who provided testimony at the May 17 Council meeting,” Kissler wrote in a staff memorandum. “The lighting district is not fairly distributed regarding assessments and lighting infrastructure benefits property owners along Harmony, not necessarily Benevan Court.”

• The Keizer Urban Renewal Agency authorized spending up to $5,700 to complete a catering center for the Keizer Civic Center. Much of the labor will be provided by Keizer Rotary members, who volunteered to complete the project.