Morgan Sanitation seeks30% hike in garbage rates
Morgan Sanitation, Inc. is seeking a 30% increase in the garbage collection fees for Morgan County residents. The West Virginia Public Service Commission is currently considering the rate hike request.
The increase will cover increases in the company's operating costs, including salaries, insurance, equipment repairs and postage, said owner J.C. Fisher. The fee hike is not due to the rising costs of fuel, he said.
The final rate increases may be increased or decreased by the Public Service Commission during its review of Morgan Sanitation's rate application. Any hike will not take effect until approved.
Current vs. proposed rates
The company's residential customers would receive a 30% hike in their garbage bills.
The current out-of-town trash service rate — now $14.12 per month — would increase to $18.40 if the new rates were totally approved.
The current monthly in-town bill — $13.29 — would rise to $17.70 if the rate hike goes through.
Commercial customers' increases would vary, since they are individually negotiated, Fisher said. These increases would be at a rate of 30%, with a minimum of $20 for commercial accounts.
The proposed hikes will bring in about $288,000 in additional annual income to Morgan Sanitation.
The company provides garbage service to an estimated 4,100 customers in Morgan County and a portion of Hampshire County, including customers in the towns of Paw Paw and Bath.
Most Morgan County residential customers are billed quarterly to save on postage, Fisher said.
He said that if the company billed everyone monthly, they would have to raise their rates more. They have considered billing customers every six months.
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Morgan Sanitation is also proposing that they be allowed to limit customers to six bags of trash per week, with a charge of $1 for each additional bag.
The company wants to impose a late fee of 10% on any past due balances, and a re-connect fee of $20 for customers terminated for non-payment.
No reconnect or late fee has been charged until now. Only a small percentage of bills are paid late, Fisher said.
He would also like to offer a $3-per-bag option to customers who put out very few bags.
Some customers put out one bag a week or one or two bags a month. If they opted for per-bag rates, they would purchase garbage bags with "Morgan Sanitation" printed on them so the crew would know they pay a special rate.
Landfill fees, fuel surcharge
In 1982, the Public Service Commission set Morgan Sanitation's base rate at $7.75 a month.
They were able to hold to the $7.75 base rate until a few years ago because of the increase in the number of customers in Morgan County, said Fisher.
Over the years, the Public Service Commission gave them small monthly increases that totaled $4.79 per customer to help cover landfill tipping charges, Fisher said.
A $1 fee was also added to the monthly bill to cover bulky items like tires and furniture.
And, there is also a fuel surcharge, now 58-cents, that fluctuates depending on the cost of fuel.
The fuel surcharge actually went down at the beginning of the year though gasoline went up, said Fisher
Morgan Sanitation has 11 employees and 10 trucks, including pickups that get garbage along roads that aren't accessible to larger trucks, said Fisher.
Morgan Sanitation originally appealed to the Public Service Commission for a rate increase nearly three years ago. The application process is laborious and time-consuming, Fisher said.
Fisher expects a decision on the rate increase by November at the earliest or at least by early 2008.
A complete copy of the rate increase proposal is available at the Morgan Sanitation office, 32 Radio Station Road, Berkeley Springs.
People can write and protest the rate increase and if there is enough public demand, a public hearing will be held, Fisher said.
Letters or written protests should be filed with the Public Service Commission by Friday, July 27.
Letters should be sent to: Executive Secretary, West Virginia Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 812, Charleston, WV 25323.