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New rates trashing the budget for Harrisburg Schools

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The Harrisburg School District just learned about a huge expense that’s sitting in its trash dumpsters.

For years, the school district has paid $9,000 a month for its trash removal. But this month, officials opened a bill with their new rate, for more than $74,000.

Their trash bill will go from about $110,000 a year to $800,000. The city’s trash audits revealed the district was paying far less than it should for the volume and frequency of its trash pickup.

“The school district has been paying far too little a rate for its trash for a long time, going back over a decade,” says Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

The district’s business manager says they got very little notice before this bill arrived. It’s due May 15th.

“There could’ve been a little more communication, better communication in this process,” says business manager William Gretton.

The mayor says the school district knew about the audit and they were notified of an increase last month. But Gretton says there’s no room in the budget for the bigger expense.

"I mean you're talking about again $800,000, that's quite a few teachers and quite an impact on our instructional program," he says.

City officials say the district can cut the trash bill in half by recycling. Right now, the schools do not recycle at all.

"This district has been sorely neglectful in implementing that over the years," says Gretton.

The mayor says the city will not impose late fees, as the district gets the money for the much-higher bill together.