Hillsboro’s City Council seems divided about the prospect of adding food composting to city waste collection services. Councillors discussed the idea with staff during a May 15 work session.

All councillors supported the idea in the abstract, but some expressed concern about imposing additional costs on residents, especially after a recent increase prompted by increased recycling costs.

According to Peter Brandom, Senior Project Manager, adding compost to Hillsboro’s garbage service would mean an increased cost for residents between $0.43 to $4.27 a month, depending on service levels. Here’s a breakdown from Brandom’s report:

The cheapest option would simply add food composting to the existing yard waste buckets, while the most expensive option offers weekly composting and weekly recycling. Starting the composting program would also involve startup costs paid by the city, which city officials estimate will be betweent $35,000 to $150,000 depending on grants and other factors.

Discussion about the program was frank, with some councillors insisting the cost increase is too steep.

“I’m not in favor of adding a 9 percent increase to people’s bill.” said Councillor Darrel Lumaco. “I’m not opposed to studying it, but I think it’s one more thing that we can’t afford.”

Councillor Anthony Martin disagreed.

“We have a chance to change behaviors,” said Martin, “To take the food waste and keep some of that food energy in our community, to avoid the methane that would be produced in our landfills, and reduce our landfill size overall.”

Councillor Fred Nachtigal asked Brandom whether the service would be optional. Told the fee increase would apply to everyone, regardless of whether they used it or not, Nachtigal objected to calling it a “service.”

“We’re not providing a service to anybody, we’re not benefiting anybody, we’re enforcing an expense,” said Nachtigal. “We need to be mindful of that, to be mindful of how we describe it.”

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