"It's not a pleasant thing to do . . . but it seems to be this is sort of a long time coming," said Councilwoman Laura Friedman. "I do think we need to be very careful as we move forward about increasing fees in general."
Councilman John Drayman voted against the increase, saying it was the wrong move in a down economy.
"Yes, it's relatively small, but I'm not convinced this is something that is absolutely necessary at this time," he said Wednesday.
Public Works Director Steve Zurn said the city's Waste Management division has seen a significant increase in the cost of trash disposal as the recession and recycling efforts have caused a significant reduction in trash at the city's Scholl Canyon Landfill.
Pre-recession, the amount of waste dumped annually at the city-owned landfill averaged 400,000 tons. By the end of the fiscal year in June, officials project that only about 240,000 will have been disposed.
"That's decreased trash coming to the landfill, but operating costs remain constant," Zurn said.
Fixed operating costs include landfill monitoring and management and regulatory actions as required under state and federal law, he said. In turn, the cost for disposing a ton of trash has risen by about $10 compared with three years ago.
The rate increase will also cover an $875,000 upgrade to convert the city's fleet of garbage trucks and street sweepers to environmentally friendly vehicles, which run on compressed natural gas.
"We are excited to do this . . ." Zurn said. "But it does cost more than traditional diesel-fuel vehicles."
As required by state law, city officials sent out 75,000 letters giving 45 days' notice of the proposed rate increase, Zurn said.
On Tuesday, a handful of residents spoke against the rate increase, namely several city critics who railed against the increase at a time of record unemployment.
"We don't have any competition," said resident Mike Mohill, a self-proclaimed gadfly. "Maybe we need another refuse company."