Cape Coral City Council on Monday approved a solid waste assessment of $157.25 for each residential dwelling, a slight decrease.
The assessment is $4.11 less than last year's $161.35 assessment, and more than $21 less than what was imposed three years ago.
The mayor and one councilmember voted against it, wanting a larger reduction.
At issue was the $850,000 in recycling revenues that
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz wanted rebated back to the residents. That money will instead be put into the general fund and put toward capital improvements.
Finance manager Victoria Bateman said if all the recycling revenue was rebated, the assessment would have been $145.05.
However, she added any rebated revenue would put next year's proposed city budget out of balance.
Another issue was the subsidizing of commercial pickup by residential customers, which City Attorney Dolores Menendez said could create a legal problem.
The commercial charge will be $70 next year, up from $66.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail applauded the city for its ability to cut nearly 15 percent off its waste pickup bill since 2010.
"Going down $21 in three years is a good thing," McGrail said. "Whether I pay that $850,000 from my left pocket, right pocket or my recycle bin, I believe the money is going somewhere that needs to be served."
Mayor John Sullivan took a different view.
"The residents have done a great job recycling. I will not support this. They need a break," Sullivan said.
Sullivan joined Chulakes-Leetz in rejecting the ordinance, which passed 6-2.
With that finished, the city can now get the assessment rolls certified by the county. That passed unanimously.
In other business, Chulakes-Leetz again brought up continuing paid city participation on the Regional Planning Council.
He also questioned the logic of "paying twice" for the city's seat on the RPC
"I think there's a value, but not to pay twice. The jury is out on the RPC. It's rate of success is deplorable," Leetz said. "I made it clear to the RPC that we couldn't guarantee membership for paying twice."
Chulakes-Leetz suggested that the $50,000 savings, should the city opt out, could be used for other things, such as reducing the solid waste assessment for residents or for an educational campaign on fertilizer use.
Sullivan suggested it could be used for capital improvements, such as new computers for council members.
McGrail questioned the membership fee.
"I found a value in it. Just not $50,000 worth," McGrail said.