09/26/2011 04:17 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2012

Denver City Council Considering Trash Collection Fee, 'Pay As You Throw' Model (UPDATE)

Denver residents may be disappointed to learn trash collection in the city could start to cost. Until now, trash collection has been paid for from the general fund, which is comprised of money from a variety of sources--including property and sales taxes.


A report released Monday by Denver's Structural Financial Task Force identifies a set of "sustainable solutions" to "ensure the City's long-term viability and solvency." While the recommendations include more basic advice such as streamlining healthcare and implementing economic "best practices," several recommendations are notable for their departure from the norm:

De-Bruce the City's Tax Structure -- In a reference to Colorado's anti-tax advocate Doug Bruce, the committee advocates reforming TABOR-esque tax structures.

Medical Marijuana Tax -- increase sales tax on medical marijuana to levels found in surrounding communities.

Charge residents for trash collection -- the task force estimated trash collection fees could generate between $16 and $26 million, but did not recommend a specific fee system.

Reset parking meters once cars drive off -- officials believe the city could bring in between $460,000 and $1.38 million in revenue by resetting meters that have extra time.


While the details of how to structure trash payments haven't been hashed out, the Denver Post reports councilors are considering the idea to help close a persistent $30 million budget gap. Weekly trash pick-up services currently cost the city about $16 million, while instituting a $15 or $16 monthly fee could up city revenue $26 million a year.

"No matter what model we use, households would still be paying something for that collection that's separate from what they're already paying in sales tax and property tax. The two don't relate," said Denver Public Works communications director Ann Williams in an interview with 7News.

A 'Pay As You Throw' model, wherein residents would be charged different amounts based on how much trash is discarded, has also been discussed. The city would incur significant costs implementing a standardized collection system, however.

WATCH a BBC video on an English community with an impressive recycling program:

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