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Higher trash rates has businesses sticker shocked - abc27 WHTM

Higher trash rates has businesses sticker shocked

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Many small business owners have said they are sticker shocked over their new commercial trash bill. A recent round of rate hikes has Harrisburg's backbone worrying about broken backs.

When it comes to watches, "Handyman Dave" can fix anything. Although Arnold, who owns a clock repair shop on Logan Street, said he wished he good enough to turn back the hands of time on his business's trash bill.

"It's staggering!" said Arnold.

With his recent bill in his hand, Arnold was rendered speechless when trying to choke up the words to explain his frustration.

"We've gone up $90!" he said.

Arnold pointed to several past bills that showed his refuse disposal cost was about $45 a month for his "small shop" in Olde Uptown. His latest bill showed a new monthly refuse pickup charge for $34.25. His raised refuse disposal is now $97.65 for his business's less than one cubic yard waste, totaling $131.90.

"I'm a little, tiny one-man shop," said Arnold. "I cannot afford an additional $1,000 a year for trash. But I have no choice."

Arnold isn't alone. Several commercial property owners tell abc27 they also feel the pinch, including businesses along restaurant row. Federal Taphouse owner Judd Goodman said his bill nearly doubled. Zembie's echoed similar sticker shock last week.

Business owners are concerned they may be forced to raise prices for products or services to cover the higher costs.

"That's a lot of watches I have to fix," said Arnold.

Business is tough already, he added. He's worried higher prices could halt an already slow stream of revenue. City rates have notoriously been higher than rates in Dauphin County. Now they're poised almost three times higher.

Arnold, who lives a block away from his business on North 4th Street, said he has more waste at his home between he and his wife than at his business, yet his residential rates are "one-third the cost."

Harrisburg business owners understand the importance of helping the community revitalize and recovery the local economy. But Arnold and others point out the taxes, fees, and rate hikes continue to eat at profits—their livelihoods.

Anyone playing devil's advocate would ask, why not move?

"If I could afford to move out of town I would," said Arnold. "But with real estate as depressed as it is…there's no way I can even sell the property, never mind have enough money to go buy somewhere else."

Arnold's situation is a Catch 22 many seem to be stuck in. He said he attempts to reduce waste at home and at his business through compost and recycling.

Lately critics of the potential incinerator deal with the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority are skeptical of a particular requirement.

According to the addendum, the city would be required to haul a minimum of 35,000 ton a year over the duration of the two-decade-long deal. This is referred to as the "base tonnage" in the deal. If the city is unable to reach that minimum, the city must pay the difference or a "shortfall fee" to LCSWMA.

Authority officials have said Harrisburg typically haul about 38,000 ton a year, and should be able to reach this requirement. Residents like Sandra Strauss point out this particular requirement do not encourage Harrisburg city leaders or residents to reduce waste.

"There is very little incentive to do more."

Strauss said she spend most of her career in waste and recycling management with Allegheny County. She felt it was "ironic" that the LCSWMA would have a provision considering their Lancaster County facility is one of the best at reducing waste.

According to the LCSWMA website, the company provides itself on renewable energy. The facility event boasts about turning 90 percent of its waste into energy.

Strauss also wondered why Harrisburg would post a city position for a "Recycling Manager" when the current deal would frown upon reducing waste in the future. She said she would hope the LCSWMA would be open to discussions about recycling eventually.

While the incinerator deal looks to be finalized around December 16 or so according to a Receiver's Office spokesperson, the trash commercial trash rates are already in play. Arnold said he isn't sure what could be done to change the rates. So, instead he plans to clock as many hours until his watch repair business runs out of time.

"In Harrisburg I get robbed," he said "That's the word I would use."

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