Solid waste problem not getting better

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Brookhaven officials will seek the help of a consultant toprovide answers to a struggling solid waste funding situation thatthreatens to get worse.

“You do need to be deciding what you’re going to do with solidwaste,” City Clerk Iris Rudman urged aldermen after presenting afinancial situation showing solid waste expenses running $56,000above revenue.

State law requires solid waste operations to be self-supporting.Since 1996, when the law change was adopted, a surplus has beenused to cover expenses: however, that is now about gone.

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To pay the latest November bills, Rudman requested and was givenpermission to transfer some water department funds and to tap intoa certificate of deposit.

“I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Rudman said.

Although Mayor Bill Godbold pointed out that January will seesome solid waste revenue from a tax levy, the situation for thefuture did not look promising.

“It sounds like we could be going deeper in the hole here,” saidWard 4 Alderman Bob Massengill, who suggested a meeting withprivate solid waste contractors.

James Arnold, sanitation department superintendent, pointed outthat some restaurants and commercial establishments paid a flat feefor garbage pick up, but it was costing the city far more todispose of the garbage that they generate. He and aldermenindicated that situation needed to be addressed.

“Some people probably are paying too much,” said Ward 5 AldermanTom Smith. “But there’s a whole lot not paying enough.”

Mayor Bill Godbold suggested Arnold develop a list ofestablishments that are costing the city. He said their garbagecould be run across the scale at landfill and charged per toninstead of on a flat fee basis.

“We can’t continue to pick up their garbage at the rate we’regoing,” Godbold said.

At budget time earlier this year, aldermen approved a $3residential garbage fee increase from $9 a month to $12 a month.Rudman said that helped the situation, but the city has only beenunder the higher fee scale for a short time.

Ideas for addressing the situation included going to a privateservice or possible reductions in collections if the city continueto run operations. Better public education on ways to separategarbage and trash was also mentioned.

Following an extended discussion, aldermen voted to contactsolid waste consultant Butch Lambert and get his input during aspecial board meeting. A date for the meeting will be determinedaccording to Lambert’s schedule.