In early 2012, my garbage company offered me a deal: commit to them for two years, and in return, they wouldn’t raise my rates.
Prices are always increasing, so I thought it would be smart to agree.
I found my latest garbage bill in the mailbox this week, and it was higher than I remembered. In fact, it seemed like my bill had been steadily increasing over the past two years. I decided it was time to take a closer look.
They send the bill every three months, and the current bill was for about $140. When I looked at the bill’s breakdown, one thing caught my eye: my refuse and recycling service only accounted for $76 of the total.
Almost 50% of my bill was comprised of taxes and fees.
A Breakdown of My Garbage Bill
Here’s what I was charged:
- City and county environmental charge: $26
- State tax: $7.50
- Administrative fees: $4
- Fuel charge: $17
- Environmental charge: $9.50
The first two fees are imposed by the government. But the last three charges — which account for 22% of the total — seem to me like my garbage company sandbagging my bill.
Here’s what I mean:
Administrative fee: I interpret this as a fee for the company’s billing, payroll, and customer support — and I’m confused as to why this wouldn’t be part of their base service fees.
Fuel charge: I remember when they added this charge. Fuel prices were skyrocketing, and instead of raising their prices, they added an extra fee. Gas prices fluctuate, but right now they’re nowhere near their all-time high. The garbage company’s website actually has a table explaining how they calculate the fuel charge, and I was shocked to learn that gas would have to fall all the way to 95 cents a gallon to eliminate the fuel charge entirely. (When was the last time gasoline was 95 cents a gallon?!)
Environmental charge: Their website describes this charge as a way to “cover our costs and expenses to operate our collection, transfer, landfill, recycling, and waste-to-energy operations.” Doesn’t that sound basically like the cost to run their company?
The bottom line: Something stinks about my garbage bill.
While the base rate of service has technically stayed the same, I believe my garbage company has been adding and increasing new fees to keep their profitability where they want it. Since my two year agreement is over, I think it’s time to start looking for an alternative.
Have you taken a close look at the charges on your garbage bill? Do you understand them all?