Myrtle Beach considers increasing utility rates to improve trash collection

Myrtle Beach Budget Retreat - Utilities

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach’s growth is putting a strain on city’s solid waste division, officials said.

The city’s public works department told city council on Thursday during the second day of Myrtle Beach’s budget retreat that change is needed in order to meet the needs of the community.

“When you look at the growth and the large number of increased customers we have each year, we have to address that either through additional trucks and people or through a modification of how we pick things up. This year we are doing a combination of both,” Solid Waste Superintendent Ed Marr said.

Marr explained the city is currently servicing an additional 50 stop on each of its four routes.

The city is hoping to add an additional waste collection route next year. Before the route can be added, city council needs to approve the department’s request for additional positions and equipment, which would cost around $1.2 million.

“By doing certain changes to our system today, we’ll be able to much more effectively address our collection concerns going forward,” Marr said.

Marr said these changes would sustain residential growth for the next four years.

Myrtle Beach officials are also looking to decrease the amount of illegal dumping throughout the city.

On Thursday, the public works department proposed adding a code enforcement officer, equipment operator and a truck to both decrease illegal dumping and collect it.

“The biggest thing that will help us, I believe, is our equipment downtime should be reduced, we should have reductions in overtime, we should also have better service delivery because the trucks aren’t running behind, pushing our trucks off our normal cycle,” Marr said.

The city is also including imposing a 2 cubic yard limit on how much yard and bulk waste residents can put on the curb at a time. Officials said this limit would be the size of four trash collectors. Currently, there are no limits in place and Marr said that’s causing delays in the city’s routes.

“We get behind on our routes because too much material is being set out on an individual property by property basis, so we are just looking to control that, make it a little bit more fair and equitable for all the customers that we service and provide it at a fair cost," Marr said.

Marr estimated that it costs the city a minimum of $40 each time trucks have to go back to pick up large amounts of curbside waste.

Marr explained residents will still be able to put out the same type of waste, they just might have to stagger when they place it on the curb.

Both proposed changes would require an increase in resident’s utility bill.

Myrtle Beach resident’s utility bill could increase by close to $8 a month and $95 a year.

Around $5 of that increase would fund the additional route and efforts to tackle illegal dumping. The remaining $3 comes from an increase to water and sewer rates.

City leaders were divided on whether the increase rate is needed and didn’t make any final decisions on Thursday.

The public works department is requesting a total of $1.38 million for the next fiscal year. The department is projected to have a more than $7 million budget, according to city documents.

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