City division to get $200K in new equipment, but funds represent burden shift

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“In the case of solid waste, the cost for additional vehicles and new containers to serve new growth areas will now be factored into our monthly solid waste rates, fundamentally shifting the burden of these one-time costs from solely new home sales to all city residents, including new home buyers.”
– Deputy City Manager Katie Gregory

Peoria’s solid waste division is about to receive needed equipment to service more customers due to continued growth throughout the city.

The city council approved $203,845 to fund two vehicles for solid waste inspectors and residential refuse containers. Funds will also go to a residential satellite lifter system, a mini-collection vehicle which allows workers to collect refuse from hard-to-reach places that full-size garbage trucks cannot access.

However, these funds will diminish the remaining balance of solid waste development impact fees, ending an era, of sorts, representing a shift of burden from the developer to the customer.

The Arizona Legislature passed a law in 2011 that prohibits the continued use of collecting certain fees, which were collected on each new household or commercial structure to offset the increasing cost of providing solid waste services and other needs for new growth and development.

Deputy City Manager Katie Gregory said the city has made adjustments to the restrictions on impact fee revenues since 2012, but it has not been easy and has affected the timing and scope of certain public improvements.

Park development, open space acquisition, trail development and the development of new city facilities were most affected from the loss of impact fees. Now expenditures related to these project types must compete for general obligation bonds and general fund sources.

“All funding decisions involve prioritization and tradeoffs, and projects historically funded through impact fees are no different,” she said. “Each year we balance the project needs with the available resources and put funding toward the most important projects.”

Ms. Gregory said that with the loss of certain categories of impact fees, including solid waste fees, it required the city to fund certain growth related items with other revenue sources. 

“In the case of solid waste, the cost for additional vehicles and new containers to serve new growth areas will now be factored into our monthly solid waste rates, fundamentally shifting the burden of these one-time costs from solely new home sales to all city residents, including new home buyers,” she said. 

Municipalities have until August 2020 to spend any impact fees collected prior to that change in law.

Expending the collected fees to offset growth related impacts to solid waste services has been ongoing —  in December 2018, the council authorized the use of $1 million in impact fees to upgrade the equipment at the Phoenix Material Recovery Facility to better sort recycled materials and received an equal offset credit.

Ms. Gregory said Peoria’s solid waste program provides service to more than 60,000 households, and each year, the city experiences significant increases in population and homes.

As the population grows, so does the need for more equipment and resources to not only maintain, but to meet the city’s goal of delivering superior public service, she said.

About $60,000 of the remaining balance of solid waste impact fees will go to a lifter system, which allows for easy collection in parks, trails, off-road, warehouses and other facilities, throughways, temporary events, and remote locations. It will also be used for miscellaneous services the department needs to accommodate on a weekly basis, such as servicing small pocket neighborhoods with few homes like those located west of Lake Pleasant.

About $75,500 will fund two lightweight vehicles for solid waste inspectors to meet requirements for recycling inspections and about $68,000 to purchase trash containers for new accounts.

Other recent funds from impact fees include $2.2 million to purchase capacity in the Glendale Landfill.

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, phaldiman@newszap.com, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.

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