WATERLOO — Residents will pay more next year for garbage, recycling and yard waste services.

Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously Monday to continue the curbside recycling and yard waste collection program on a voluntary basis while adding a new $5 monthly fee for all households to support the drop-off recycling and yard waste sites.

“For years, people that have taken their recyclables to a recycling site or their yard waste to the yard waste site have paid nothing for that,” said Councilwoman Sharon Juon. “This is correcting that oversight, and I think that part is appropriate.”

Councilman Steve Schmitt joined a majority of residents speaking in favor of keeping the curbside collection program voluntary.

“I was troubled by the mandatory,” Schmitt said. “I and a lot of the citizens have a problem with that.”

The city currently does not charge residents for the drop-off sites but has a voluntary $3 monthly program for crews to pick up recycling at the curb once a month and use the same container on other weeks for yard waste.

That program disintegrated recently when recycling processors said they would no longer accept the frequently contaminated material caused by using one container for both waste streams.

Public Works Manager Randy Bennett initially proposed going to a mandatory curbside program for all 23,000 residential garbage customers, which would have cost $8 a month.

The program approved Monday still requires several ordinance changes and other actions, but is expected to include the following:

  • All residential garbage customers will pay $5 a month to support the drop-off sites, with a portion of the money hiring two more employees, adding more bins, beefing up security and other steps to improve those facilities.
  • Republic Services will be contracted to run the curbside recycling program. Residents willing to pay $4 per month more can have twice-monthly curbside recycling collection while city trucks will continue picking up yard waste on the current schedule.
  • Regular garbage fees will be raised 10 percent to cover the cost of the service and ensure sanitation crews do a better job keeping up with code enforcement cleanups and other duties.

“The biggest thing that I appreciate about this is the expanded service that our citizens are going to see with the twice-monthly recycling, with the code enforcement and all of that,” said Councilman Ray Feuss.

But not everyone was pleased with the higher fees.

Resident Norajean Csukker said she currently uses the curbside program but will likely start throwing her recyclables in the garbage rather than pay the much higher cost of the curbside program.

“I’m on Social Security; I can barely make ends meet right now,” Csukker said. “If you start raising more fees, my groceries are going to go down or my medicine isn’t going to get taken.”

While they supported the compromise, both Juon and Klein said they really supported the original mandatory plan because it would have led to more material being diverted from the landfill.

Juon said the city will be watching closely to see how the first year of the new program goes.

“If the users of the voluntary program drop off we’re going to be under water financially,” Juon said.

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