To help meet declining revenue projections, the city is considering charging more for its biannual curbside trash pickups and sewer service next year.
Both increases will be discussed tonight when the Durango City Council considers approving the 2011 operating budget.
The proposed $49.8 million 2011 budget and $14.19 million capital improvements budget have been the subject of scrutiny on the council for several months as councilors worked to condense the city government down to an appropriate post-recession size.
To cover sewer expenses next year, the Public Works Department is asking for a 4.9 percent rate increase for all residential and commercial customers. The increases would mean $80,000 in additional revenue next year.
The average residential sewer bill in 2010 was $12 a month. If approved, a typical customer will be charged an additional 40 cents a month.
Shortfalls in the sewer-service budget are the result of decreased revenue from plant investment fees which are paid by developers for new construction and declining returns on investments.
Rates were increased 5 percent in January 2009 and 10 percent in January 2010. Since 2000, sewer rates in Durango have more than doubled.
Two months ago, City Manager Ron LeBlanc asked councilors to consider charging residents for spring and fall cleanups, which target yard waste and large household items, or to consider cutting the program entirely.
Councilors decided to keep the cleanups, adding a $1.50 monthly charge to cover the cost. The charge would be added to monthly garbage bills and should yield $70,000 in yearly revenue.
A public hearing on the sewer rate increase will be held tonight before councilors vote on the budget. A public hearing on the trash charge likely will be scheduled for Dec. 21.
Public hearings are required before fee increases can take effect.
Since a housing market crash triggered a nationwide economic slowdown in December 2008, the Durango City Council has approved cutting $4.8 million and eliminating 37 full-time positions, 16 through layoffs.
This summer, after months of double-digit losses in sales-tax revenue which comprise the bulk of the citys general fund retail activity in Durango stabilized and flattened out.