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City sets new commercial garbage rates

Brookhaven aldermen Tuesday approved new rates for commercialgarbage pick-up customers, but it appears unlikely the higher feeswill pull the city out of its solid waste dilemma.

After studying the new rates, which in a number of cases morethan double customers’ fees, Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill saidthe city could generate an additional $13,000 a month if all thecurrent customers remain with the city.

That money, though, would only partially offset a projected$19,000 a month deficit in the solid waste operation. The aldermanencouraged his fellow board members to act quickly on the newschedule.

“We could go deeper and deeper in the hole,” Massengillsaid.

Other city officials said the city was losing money picking upgarbage for a number of commercial customers. They indicated thenew rates were not intended to fully solve the solid wastewoes.

“This is not a stop all. We’re just trying to get through theyear,” said City Clerk Iris Rudman, adding that aldermen could acton the situation at budget time in the summer.

Aldermen approved the new rate schedule 6-1. The rates must bepublished and they will become effective in about 30 days.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner voted against the new rates. Hesaid the city should advertise for bids to privatize garbagecollection.

“If this doesn’t work, we’re going to have to,” said Mayor BillGodbold.

OBJECTION HEARD

In other business, aldermen heard from a Railroad Street usedcar lot owner who objected to recent city enforcement efforts toremove junk vehicles from the property.

In a lengthy address, Gwen Smith, of Big Bargain Used Cars,questioned city policies regarding the number of vehicles allowedon various property and whether the city had to be informed whenbusiness owners go on vacation. Smith indicated she and herhusband, Lawrence, had been on vacation for an extended period oftime.

Smith also objected to city officials’ plans to remove a churchbus and tear down an old apartment that is deteriorated. She citeda neighboring church that she believed had an illegally-parked buson its property.

“If it’s wrong for us, it should be wrong for them also,” Smithsaid.

Following Smith’s speech, Godbold thanked her for her appearanceand the matter was not discussed further Tuesday.

City records indicate several public hearings seeking cleaningof the Smiths’ property have been held since 1994. Also, a petitionwith over 100 Pearlhaven residents’ names is on file with the cityencouraging officials to enforce laws regarding appearance andunsightly conditions.

EASEMENTS OK’D

Following an executive session for litigation reasons, aldermenvoted to accept some easements needed for a Field Lark Lane sewerline improvement project. A third phase of the project, going fromHighway 51 to around Brignall Road, was expected to startWednesday.

City Attorney Joe Fernald did not disclose financial conditionsof the easement acceptance. He said 11 easements are needed, withthe city possibly having to pursue eminent domain on two of them,and disclosing financial matters may impact negotiations.

In another engineering-related matter, aldermen questionedpaying a $81,000 Engineering Associates bill for First and SecondStreet paving project engineering services.

Later in the meeting, engineer Jeff Green said the feerepresented about 13.5 percent of the total project cost. He saidthe state transportation department targets engineering feesbetween 11-12 percent. The percentage was a little higher becauseit was labor and paperwork intensive, Green said.

Aldermen agreed to pay the bill after Green’s explanation. Boardmembers also questioned progress on the project, and the engineersaid crews were waiting for better weather to do some parts.

“We don’t want to cut the street in the wet season,” Greensaid.

STREET CHANGE

To assist students at the newly-renovated Brookhaven HighSchool, aldermen agreed to allow two-way traffic in the section ofThird Street between the high school and the districtadministration office.

Traffic Supervisor Jimmy Furlow said the change will allow foreasier loading and unloading of students at the school. Buses cancome in from Monticello Street, pick up students and then proceedto Second Street.

The change was implemented Tuesday, the first day for studentsin the renovated building.

“It worked pretty good other than we had some congestion atSecond Street and Court,” Furlow said, adding that a police officercould be stationed at the intersection for traffic control.

In an airport matter, Manager Benton Furlow updated boardmembers of fuel sales after the city changed its pricing structurelast month.

In March, Furlow said the city had sold three times as muchfuel, 2,100 to 714 gallons, in March 2002 over March 2001. However,the city had realized only about $2,000 in additional revenue,which represented about a 30 percent increase.

Godbold suggested Furlow present his report during the nextairport board meeting. Bumgarner asked Furlow to relay city boardconcerns about the situation.