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Valparaiso Council approves trash rate hike, reduction in recycling pickup

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Valparaiso residents will see a jump in their trash pickup rate. The city council voted six-to-one Monday to raise the monthly rate from $12 to $19.50, starting with bills due in November. It's the first increase to that rate in 10 years.

During a public hearing, resident Murdock Davis said such a sharp increase would be difficult for many residents to afford. "Making up that gap in one whack of 62 percent is quite brazen. There was a reference at the previous meeting to the old song of running things like a business. I don't know of any business that would ever try that," Davis said.

Council members were open to the idea of adding a discount for older residents in the future. Residents with lower incomes will continue to get a discount.

But the increase in cost will also come with a decrease in service. The city will cut recycling pickup to once every two weeks and eliminate free recycling for businesses.

Resident Ed Howe felt that sends the wrong message. "To me, as an observer of a process, I say, okay, your commitment to recycling just got cut in half. But your commitment to putting stuff in the landfill remains consistent," Howe told council members.

City Services Director Steve Poulos promised to monitor the impact of the change and noted that residents can request a second toter for an additional fee.

Council member Robert Cotton cast the lone opposing vote. He proposed offsetting some of the increase with a road impact fee on new developments.

"Whereas we all understand the nature of what causes road degradation, what we're also saying is that we don't want to burden the existing residents with the profligate growth . . . where there is an enormous impact on our roads from the new families coming in that the developers facilitate," Cotton said.

But City Attorney Patrick Lyp cautioned that the process is complicated and may not be worth the cost.