REYNOLDSVILLE – The Reynoldsville Borough Council voted against an increase in tariffs for waste management, citing errors and the company’s ongoing billing problems, after a lengthy discussion with company representatives during the Monday working session.
Bob Burdzy, a public sector representative, and Ed Yahner, senior district manager, attended the meeting to call for a 3 percent rate hike and address council concerns. This meeting was the result of Waste Management’s decision to increase the borough’s bills by 3% at the start of the new year without having previously approved it by council.
This unapproved increase has since been corrected, but Waste Management was still seeking board approval to go ahead with the increase. Burdzy explained that it was in the best interest of the board to approve it as the contract with Waste Management ends at the end of this year.
The 3% increase will reduce bills from $ 19.50 to $ 20.09 per resident per month. There has been no price increase since 2019. Burdzy said that at the end of the contract, due to the price trend, it is “almost certain” that there will be price increases.
âIf we do 3% now, maybe it won’t be such a culture shock. If you said no and all of a sudden 2023 is coming and everyone is wondering ‘what’s going on’, âsaid Burdzy.
He recommended that at the end of the contract, the borough negotiate an extension that will maintain local negotiations. He said if the contract is tendered, it âbecomes a business. The company tells us what the margins are.
âSo our contract with the company was that they had to come and see us before we had any kind of increase, but they (the citizens) were already billed with an increase before they contacted us,â said Kyle Gordon. . “I’m just thinking about credibility, there’s a lot of ‘we could do this, we might not do that’ when we have a contract that hasn’t even been honored.”
Ralph âTuckerâ August brought forward the motion to approve the increase and was seconded by Max Smith, but the vote was split, leading to a recorded vote. The call ended in a tie 3-3, leaving Mayor Mark August to break the tie. August voted against the increase, rejecting the request.
During the discussion, Board Chairman Bill Cebulskie raised concerns about the number of errors on residents’ bills over the past year. He said it had been a great expenditure of time on behalf of Borough Secretary Jackie Dixon, who answered hundreds of calls and concerns on such issues.
He then said that in the past three days she had received 97 calls related to the increase. Dixon herself said she received 426 calls for billing issues from May to the end of the year.
âProbably 300 of them were older than the last three days. I got 97 phone calls or people stopped in my office because their bills went up, âDixon said.
Yahner took the floor to explain that a major issue is knowing which customers live in the borough and which do not, as some have a Reynoldsville zip code but are outside the borough. It’s a common problem across the state, according to Yahner.
âI’m grateful for Jackie’s time because she makes us realize it and we can fix it,â Yahner said.
Burdzy said automation is “sometimes our worst enemy” when it comes to billing errors like this. If an address is not coded correctly in the system, it must be entered and corrected.
âIf the account is not an established property, it is not the fault of a municipality or a resident – billing errors,â said Burdzy.
He said they had them corrected as Dixon brought them back to the company, but suggested they list them together to make sure all of the borough’s accounts are listed correctly. Dixon disagreed that the issues were resolved as they were reported, saying she had received calls from the same people on multiple occasions.
âI’m going to go through a list and tell you who’s in the borough and who isn’t, that’s okay,â Dixon said. “I’ll go through 1,100 people if I have to get it fixed.” “
Gordon asked if the rate increase issues could be revisited later, after seeing if some of the other billing issues were resolved. Burdzy said the rate hike would not take effect until April, so they have until then to reconsider the matter.
“I think your proposal is valid given the rate of inflation and the times we live in. I have a hard time on behalf of our constituents, to vote for an increase that has already been imposed on them without going through them. appropriate channels beforehand, and during your presentation always note all details and bugs still in the system and unresolved, âGordon said.