Examples of how recycling should be placed curbside before being picked by Holt Services.

The Osage City Council has approved the second reading of an ordinance that would allow the solid waste/recycling fee to be raised by $2 a month to help cover the increased cost of recycling.

The council could have chosen to waive the third reading during its Oct. 21 meeting and adopt the ordinance, but decided against it.

Instead, the third reading will be held at the next council meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at City Hall. 

City residents are currently being charged $7.50 per month for solid waste and recycling. 

Holt and Sons Sanitation of Mason City has been picking up garbage and recycling for Osage residents since October 2017. 

The city is proposing the fee increase because the company is no longer receiving rebates to take recyclables to Mason City Recycling and are now paying that cost themselves, according to Councilwoman Judy Voaklander. 

Because of this, Holt and Sons is no longer making a profit on picking up recycling, she said. 

"Would you run a business and lose money every month? I wouldn't," Voaklander said. 

Raising the solid waste/recycling fee to $9.50 wouldn't mean Holt and Sons would get the entire $2 increase per household, according to Voaklander. 

She noted $6.10 of the $7.50 rate currently charged per household for solid waste and recycling goes to Holt and Sons, while the remaining $1.40 goes to the city to pay the fees for the county dump site west of town where residents can take yard waste at no cost; do the city-wide clean-up every three years; pick up leaves in the fall from people's yards; and pick up fallen tree branches after storms. 

The resolution the council is considering now would just give it permission to amend the contract with Holt and Sons, according to Voaklander.

She said the decision on exactly how much of the $2 increase goes to the company wouldn't be made until the contract is amended.

Lori King, an Osage resident who works at the Floyd Mitchell Chickasaw Landfill, said she didn't think Holt and Sons needed more money for its services. 

She said the company is using a pickup rather than a garbage truck to collect garbage on some city streets, meaning there's no way to prevent garbage from falling out and landing on the ground.

Voaklander said Holt and Sons uses a pickup so they don't lose time when the garbage truck is full and has to go to the landfill.

When the garbage truck returns to Osage, the pickup goes to meet it so the trash the driver collected can be put in the now-empty garbage truck, she said. 

Amy Olson, another Osage resident, said she has seen garbage on the ground. 

However, Mayor Steve Cooper said he's never seen this and hasn't heard from any other residents about garbage on the ground. 

Holt and Sons "are fulfilling their contract," he said. 

King said she realizes the city has the right to raise the rate for garbage/recycling, "but that doesn't mean I have to like it."

She also asked if the proposed fee increase has anything to do with Holt and Sons' recent decision to pick up recycling every week rather than every other week. 

City officials said the fee increase has nothing to do with the change in the recycling schedule. 

City Clerk Cathy Penney said Osage residents were putting out a lot of recycling to be picked up every other week, making it necessary to have a truck go to Mason City to dispose of one load and then return to get another load. 

The company made the decision to pick up recycling every week to avoid down time, as well as to clear up confusion among residents about which week was recycling week, she said. 

Cooper said this was an internal decision by Holt and Sons, noting the company is just trying out the weekly recycling pick-up to see if it works better than the former schedule. 

Voaklander said the last time the city's solid waste/recycling fee was increased was in 2007, and that was only a 10-cent raise.

She also said the rate actually has decreased over the years, noting it was once $11 a month. 

Even with the current proposed $2 raise, the fee is "still a great bargain compared to surrounding areas," said Councilman Ross Grafft. 

Voaklander made a motion to waive the third reading of the ordinance to allow for the fee raise so it could be adopted that night. 

Graftt said he was hesitant about waiving the third reading if there is still discussion to be had. 

The council voted against waiving the third reading by a vote of 5-1. 

The council then unanimously approved the second reading of the ordinance.

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