Challis City Council members approved garbage rate increases of between 1 percent and nearly 5 percent for customers who use Blue Mountain Refuse for in-town trash pickup.

The city will not see any increased revenue from the garbage company, owned by Wendall Gohn, because council members wanted to keep the increases below 5 percent and have the additional money go to Gohn so he can raise truck driver salaries and retain employees. Keeping the rate increase below 5 percent also allowed the city to avoid advertising and holding a public hearing on the hike.

Council members approved the garbage rate increases at a special meeting held April 2.

Most residential customers will see increases of just under 5 percent on their next bill from Blue Mountain Refuse, Mayor Michael Barrett said. Currently, senior citizens pay less than younger, wage-earning people in the city, but seniors will also see increases averaging just under 5 percent.

Rates for residential customers with small plastic containers are increasing an average of 4.8 percent. Homeowners with larger metal Dumpsters will see smaller increases of 0.42 of a percent to 2.24 percent if they have their Dumpsters emptied once or twice a week. Customers who have Dumpsters emptied once a month will see a rate hike of 4.8 percent.

Commercial users will pay between 0.38 of a percent and 1.81 percent more, depending on the size of Dumpster and whether it’s emptied once or twice a week. Commercial customers with monthly pickup will see rates go up by just under 5 percent.

There was little negotiating between the city and Gohn, Barrett said, since both parties had already agreed in principle to keep rate increases under 5 percent. Barrett and Gohn calculated rate hikes that would fall under 5 percent before presenting the figures to the council last week.

Last month the city also agreed to change its franchise fee from 2.5 percent of Blue Mountain’s quarterly gross income to a flat rate the city will be paid each quarter. The council will iron out the details with Gohn during the budget workshop season that starts in June, Barrett said. The rate will be reconsidered during budget season each year as the city’s population goes up or down, he added.

“It makes sense for us to take less money and simplify bookkeeping for Wendall,” said Barrett.

The city’s change to a flat rate will simplify Gohn’s bookkeeping, as he has customers both inside and outside Challis city limits and had to segregate the out-of-towners from their city franchise fee calculations every quarter and keep track of exactly how many in-town customers the company served each quarter.

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