MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Republic Services requested a rate increase with the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) for the transfer station about a year ago, and Morgantown city council members learned that the new rate was approved. The last rate increase for transfer station operations was in 2013.

Republic Services Manager of Municipal Sales for Republic Services, Renee Shipley, said the PSC conducted an extensive survey into the operation that included a financial audit and a review of the operational statistics at the transfer station. Shipley described the PSC investigation as a “first-hand look into how things really operate, what we’re about, and what we’re asking for.”

Fifth Ward representative Danielle Trumble noted the current five-year contract, which has annual increases built in, was signed around March 2023. In January 2023, city residents were paying $19.28 per month, combined with the increase built into the contract and the $2.43 increase recommended by the PSC.

“I don’t feel like our service has increased by $6 per month. We still get a lot of complaints about Republic Services,” Trumble said.

Sixth Ward Councilor Brian Butcher brought items debated during that contract negotiation that were important to both sides, but Republic Services has not acted. Additionally, Butcher has had continued complaints from his ward about trash and recycling not being picked up, picked up outside of the acceptable time cited in the contract, and numerous issues with new containers that were part of the new contract.

“We asked for specific complaint tracking on the website; it’s not happening,” Butcher said. “We asked for being able to look at how routes are done, the GPS maps, make sure people aren’t missed, specific areas to focus on, and it’s just not happening.”

Shipley cited the 11-year span since the last rate increase and the impact of the coronavirus on their operations, saying they have been providing the service to the community at a loss for several years.

“We’ve been operating at a loss of over $1 million per year for the last several years, and it’s just not a sustainable thing that we can continue,” Shipley said.

The councilor asked several times if they were being told the rate was going up or if they were being asked for a rate increase. Shipley told councilors it was a recommendation from the PSC strictly for operations at the transfer station, and it is to be implemented across the board for all users of the transfer station, directly or indirectly.

“Increases in the disposal fees authorized or implemented by the West Virginia Public Service Commission will be negotiated by the parties,” Simonton said. “That obviously doesn’t provide a lot of process, but that’s the contract language you have.”

Council has directed the city staff to review the information the PSC based the rate increase on and develop options for the future. During the 90-day improvement, Mayor Jenny Selin suggested having monthly meetings to facilitate direct contact.

“If we felt like we had good partners in this and we felt like the partnership was reciprocated, I think it would be a lot easier for us to say, OK, you’re struggling here, and I’d like to help you out, but that’s not how I’m feeling right now.”

Commercial customers are being notified of a four percent increase.