Upper Arlington City Council is expected to consider raising the city's annual fee for trash services from $40 to $64 at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Upper Arlington City Council is expected to consider raising the city's annual fee for trash services from $40 to $64 at its Dec. 14 meeting.

The proposal was moved forward for a council vote after discussion at a Dec. 7 conference session.

Finance Director Cathe Armstrong said the average household currently pays the $40 annual fee plus approximately $100 for trash stickers.

Armstrong said her office recommended the $64 fee because Upper Arlington's trash program has had to be subsidized by the general fund for the past several years.

According to information from Armstrong's office, a subsidy of $223,512 was needed in 2014 due to rising contract costs, a recently implemented fee by the city's private trash hauler to pick up recyclables and a gradual drop-off over the years in trash sticker sales.

Another subsidy of $239,540 is expected to be necessary this year, and Armstrong said that subsidy would rise to "about $300,000" if the city did not increase the annual per-household trash fee or the price for trash stickers, which currently cost $2.90 each.

"This time last year, we made the decision not to raise the fees but to go ahead and subsidize that," she said. "Now we're projecting we're going to have a deficit of about $300,000."

Armstrong said the fee increase would cover the approximately $1.78 million cost of providing trash pickup services in 2016. She added that the city could lock in those costs through 2018, meaning the program would require a subsidy only if the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio were to raise its trash-dumping fees and that those fee increases generally are relatively small.

Additionally, she gave council the option of considering raising the price of trash stickers, which must be affixed to cans of trash in the city, to $3.60, or raising the sticker fee to $3 in combination with an annual trash fee of $60.

However, she said she preferred raising the annual fee because sticker sales have been declining.

Several council members indicated initial support for the annual fee increase, including President Don Leach, David DeCapua and Kip Greenhill.

"I will join in that crowd because I think it's irresponsible to kick the can down the road," Leach said. "The program needs to pay for itself."

Leach said even with the increase, residents would pay less than they did prior to the implementation of the city's sticker fee in 1992, when households were charged more than $200 annually.

Greenhill said the fee must be increased so other city services aren't affected.

"I think we have to deal with this now," he said. "I don't know how to avoid it unless we cut services somewhere else."

Those seemingly in opposition to the fee increase included Mike Schadek, who called it "essentially a tax increase," and Erik Yassenoff.

Yassenoff said council should subsidize the trash program at least one more year to work on a longer-term solution. He said a simple annual fee increase would solve the city's problems only temporarily and noted the city currently doesn't have the resources to adequately enforce its trash sticker policy.

"Why would we not hold off at least another year to give us time?" he said. "Why do it back to back?"

City Manager Ted Staton said the city staff doesn't intend to propose another increase next year, but one might come forward in 2017. He added that the current annual fee increase is being proposed, in part, because the Citizens Financial Review Task Force in 2014 studied city finances for six months and concluded city-provided services should fund themselves.

"This is not our debate to have," Staton said. "It's (council's) debate to have."