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Joel’s Savings Corner — March 2017

Joel’s Savings Corner

I’m always on the lookout to find ways to reduce bills or otherwise save money without giving up much or any goods or services. Some are fairly simple, while others take a little more work.

Here is one that many people qualify for, but relatively few are aware of.

Transportation User Fee: Do you receive a bill each month for City of Austin Utilities? Power, water, trash, and so on. At the very end of this bill, under the category of “Street Service” is something call the Transportation User Fee. This is for street cleaning and repairs. On my bill, it’s $11.52. I believe the amount may vary depending on whether you live in a house, apartment, or somewhere else. You may be able to have this fee waived permanently. If you are over 65 OR you don’t own a car, you can call the city and have this removed from your bill. Bear in mind that you only need to be 65 OR not own a car. You can be over 65 and own a car and still qualify. Simply call the city at 512-494-9400 and have them waive this fee. You may have to wait on hold for a few minutes. When I called for information on this, I had to wait about ten minutes. A small price to pay to save $138.24/year. They will not backdate it. So if you’re now 70, they will not give you five years worth of refunds. But they will remove it going forward.

Trash Can: Also on the utility bill is a section called Solid Waste Services, which is where you’re billed for your trash collection service. We all have two trash cans in Austin. One is blue for recycling, and the other comes in various colors and sizes for regular trash. The various sizes cost different amounts. And you can save money
here as well:

  • 24 gallons—$3.85/month
  • 32 gallons—$5.10/month
  • 64 gallons—$10.25/month
  • 96 gallons—$28.80/month

On a per gallon basis, the first three are the same price ($0.16/gal). The last and largest one really gouges your pocketbook at $0.30/gal. If you downgraded to the 64 gallon size, you would save $18.55/month, or $222.60/year. To do this, you simply call the city at 512-494-9400. There is no charge to downsize. If you want to upsize, there is a one-time charge of $15. My advice here is to go as small as you can. But if you’ve got the 96 gallon size, downsize at least to the 64 gallon model. You will save a bunch.

~ Joel Christie

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