San Antonio residents will pay more in garbage collection and stormwater charges if City Council approves two fee increases at its Thursday meeting.

The fee hike by the City’s Solid Waste Management Department targets the largest size of a brown garbage bin, according to information posted on the City’s calendar page. The idea is to encourage greater adoption of recycling, Solid Waste spokesman Marcus Lee confirmed Wednesday.

Solid Waste is striving for a 60 percent recycling rate in single-family homes by 2025. The recycling rate for the 2018 fiscal year stands at 32.3 percent, Lee said.

Contamination of recycling with nonrecyclable materials – everything from food waste to diapers – affects that rate, Lee explained. Solid Waste staff also track the rate at which individual single-family homes correctly recycle without any contamination, what it calls a residential performance rate. That rate is currently 35.5 percent, he said.

If Council approves, monthly fees for large 96-gallon garbage bins would rise $4.32 from $22.44 to $26.76 on Oct. 1, when the City’s 2019 fiscal year begins. Monthly rates for the medium 64-gallon and small 48-gallon bins would go down 93 cents – from $19.69 to $18.76 and from $17.69 to $16.76.

Residents of single-family homes see these charges included in their CPS Energy bills, with the City relying on the electric and gas utility’s billing department to collect the fees. The garbage fees also fund recycling and compost bin collection.

Also on Thursday, Council members will consider whether to hike the City’s stormwater fee by 2 percent.

The City charges a monthly stormwater fee to fund drainage projects and work like street-sweeping that reduces the pollution that runs off into creeks and rivers. These charges appear on residents’ San Antonio Water System bills.

The fees are based on the percentage of impervious cover – asphalt, concrete, and roofs – on a property. The formula differs for residential and non-residential properties and is detailed on the City’s website.

As part of a five-year plan that City Council passed in 2015, the stormwater fee rose 10 percent in the 2016 fiscal year, 7 percent in 2017, and 4 percent in 2018. The plan calls for another 2 percent increase in the 2020 fiscal year.

Through a spokesperson, Transportation and Capital Improvements Assistant Director Nefi Garza declined to speak with the Rivard Report about the fee increase ahead of City Council’s Thursday vote.

City staff anticipate the higher fees will bring an additional $6,088,594 to Solid Waste’s operating and maintenance fund and an additional $1,012,259 to fund stormwater operations.

The City will hold a public hearing on the stormwater fee increase at 6 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers at the Municipal Plaza Building at 114 W. Commerce St.

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Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.