• 70°

Garbage fee increase looks almost certain

Faced with an almost quarter-million dollar solid waste deficitnext year, Brookhaven aldermen are considering the city’s firstgarbage fee rate increase in at least 10 years.

The amount of the increase, from $1 to a possible $3 a month,has not been decided as city officials review solid wasteexpenditures for the new year that starts Oct. 1. Ward 4 AldermanBob Massengill said no one wants to raise the current $9 a monthfee, but it may be necessary to make solid waste operations breakeven.

“I think we seriously have to consider doing it,” Massengillsaid.

According to a budget projections presented Friday, the city islooking at a $234,024 solid waste budget deficit next year.Combined with some landfill-related fee increases, City Clerk IrisRudman said a $2 a month garbage fee increase would lower thedeficit to $29,000.

However, city officials are still considering machinerypurchases and employee pay raises that have not been factored intothe budget. Without the machinery purchases, Rudman said a $2.50 amonth increase would cover expenses and allow for a 3 percentemployee raise.

To maintain twice a week residential service, Ward 2 AldermanTerry Bates said he believes citizens would understand a monthlyrate increase.

“I think the residents want the city cleaned up,” Batessaid.

Mayor Bill Godbold expressed concerns about those citizens withlow incomes who have difficulty paying the current fees.

“That’s what you’ve got to look at: the little man,” Godboldsaid.

City Attorney Joe Fernald offered an observation that rates hadnot risen in at least 10 years, and that garbage pick up is one ofthe few visible city services that people actually see andnotice.

“That more than anything else would be one of the easier thingsto accept…,” Fernald told officials about a rate increase asopposed to a reduction in pick up service. “Cut back on collectingit and you’ll get complaints.”

Since 1996, state law requires solid waste operations to beself-supporting. Solid waste revenue may only come from a four-milltax levy on property taxes, which the city is currently doing, andfrom garbage collection fees.