By Ann McCreary

WasteWise Methow, the valley’s garbage collection business, has been directed by state utilities regulators to increase the amount requested in a rate change proposal submitted earlier this month.

In reviewing a proposed rate increase request from WasteWise Methow, state regulators determined that because of a calculation error, the proposed rates were too low, and directed WasteWise to revise its request.

A letter will be sent to WasteWise customers on Friday (June 27) detailing the new rates that will be presented to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC).

The revised proposal would mean the bill for weekly collection for a single 32-gallon garbage can would increase from its current $13.75 to $16.90 per month for residential and commercial customers. Cost for collecting two cans would increase from $19.35 to $23.80. The original request would have increased the monthly rate for a single can to $15 and $21.10 for two cans.

“The commission … determined we weren’t asking enough,” said Casey Bouchard, co-owner of WasteWise. “We were told to resubmit new numbers.”

To assist in preparing its initial rate change request, WasteWise hired an independent firm to calculate the new rate and prepare the rate proposal for the WUTC.

“There was a calculation error in the original rate filing because of the seasonal nature of our business,” Bouchard said.

WasteWise has a much higher volume during the busy tourist season in the valley, and the initial rate calculation did not accurately reflect that fluctuation, Bouchard said.

“It’s an easy mistake to make based on the uniqueness of our community,” Bouchard said. “The nice thing about this whole process is the (utilities) commission reviews everything.”
The commission has the authority to set final rates either lower or higher than the company’s request, depending on the results of its investigation, the letter to WasteWise customers notes.

The commission staff will make a recommendation to commissioners at a meeting in Olympia on July 24.

If approved by the commission, the new rates would become effective Aug. 1 and would be reflected in September bills.

The additional revenue generated by the increase is needed to cover costs for labor, parts and equipment, maintenance, employee benefits, fuel and various other costs that have risen since the last rate increase in collection rates 18 years ago.

People interested in the proceedings can listen on a designated phone line, or may comment on the proposal before the meeting. The letter to be sent by WasteWise to customers includes contact information for the state utilities commission.

For more information about the proposal, contact WasteWise at 997-8862 or email casey@wastewisemethow.com.