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Morgan garbage rate increasing 20 percent 

By Michael Wetzel 

Morgan County residents will pay $2.50 a month more for county garbage pickup beginning March 1 after the commissioners approved a 20% increase Tuesday to offset fuel, tires and maintenance costs. 

Commission Chairman Ray Long said the new $15 monthly rate will still be the lowest in the immediate area, and the current rate of $12.50 had been in place almost 15 years.  

“We haven’t raised rates since September 2008,” Long said. “Since then fuel has more than doubled. Trucks have gone up recently 25%. We kept it as low as we could. What we increased today will help pay for two trucks and make pay adjustments where we have to. We have two trucks ordered.” 

He said the increase is expected to generate $700,000 annually. 

He said the two vehicles will cost the county’s environmental services department $570,000. 

In October, Limestone County raised its monthly garbage rate 39% from $12.96 to $18. 

In December, the Lawrence County Commission upped its monthly rate from $14 to $17. 

Decatur residents pay $25 a month for garbage pickup. 

“We try to keep our costs down and we’ve always tried to do that. We’re not losing money per se, but we’re dwindling down what we have,” Long said. “We can’t continue to operate with what we have coming in.” 

He said the local labor market has been tight since the start of the COVID pandemic, and that requires increasing revenue to cover pay adjustments. 

“You can’t find anything that costs the same thing it did in 2008,” he said. 

District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark remembers the county’s rate increase in 2008. “We went from $7.50 to $12.50 and hated to do it,” he said. “(The environmental services department) operates with what they take in and this is just a sign of the times. Everything costs more. It’s unfortunate, and I hate it for the people who are on a very tight budget. I certainly hope it holds for the next 10 or so years.” 

Long said the increase has households paying $3.75 a week based on four weeks in a month. 

“That’s still a pretty cheap service,” he said. “We work for the people. Our job is to provide services, not build up a bank account.” 

For residents needing an extra cart, that rate jumped from $4 a month to $6 a month.