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City officials consider some garbage rate cuts

Brookhaven aldermen Tuesday considered selective garbage ratereductions for some commercial customers, but the city attorneysaid the board will not be able to pick and choose the individualsto get rate reductions.

Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner raised the commercial garbagerate issue during Tuesday’s meeting of the mayor and board.Bumgarner asked the board to reduce the commercial garbage rates,from $105 a month to $35 a month, for three customers who hadcalled him.

To help offset a deficit solid waste budget, aldermen earlierthis year enacted a new garbage rate schedule for commercialcustomers. Some customers saw their rates double or more.

In requesting the reductions, Bumgarner said dentists Dr. GeorgeEdmonson and Dr. Wade Ditcharo had their medical wastes privatelydisposed and did not generate much other waste. The third customer,Progressive Men’s Shop, also did not generate much waste, thealderman said.

Even if the reductions are granted, the three customers’ rateswould still be double what they were paying previously. Bumgarner’srequest prompted a discussion from other aldermen who had alsoreceived calls about the commercial rates.

“I’ve got two that are similar to this,” said Ward 1 AldermanDorsey Cameron.

Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill mentioned Dr. Daniel Patti asanother dentist who had called him about the new rates. He addedthat he had received some other calls from customers who thoughtthe rates were “pretty outrageous.”

Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry Wilson also cited some businesseswho had called him about the new rates.

Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates, however, warned fellow boardmembers not to “nit-pick” and to be careful about ratereductions.

“There’s going to be some people out there that we’re going tolook over,” Bates said.

Bates expressed concerns about the struggling solid wastesituation and the potential for it worsening with selective ratereductions.

“If we do it for two or three and don’t do it for the entirecity, we’re going to be in trouble,” Bates said.

Bumgarner said he wanted to “put the fees where the garbage is,”meaning that those who use the service more should pay more. Sayingtheir new rates were outrageous, Mayor Bill Godbold defended therequest to lower the dentists’ garbage rates, and he said hebelieved most people would agree.

“It’s no question about it,” Godbold said.

While some officials wanted to move forward with lowering rateslast night, aldermen elected to wait until the next board meetingto act on the situation.

City Attorney Joe Fernald ended the discussion by saying theboard will not be able to pick and choose which individualcustomers get reductions. He said selective application would be aviolation of the city ordinance and all customers in similarsituations would have to be considered.

“You’re either going to lower it or not,” Fernald said.

In other business during the brief board meeting, aldermenscheduled a work session on the budget for Tuesday, July 30, at 5p.m.

City Clerk Iris Rudman said having aldermen involved earlier inthe budget preparation process will allow everyone’s interests tobe heard. She warned officials to be cautious about expenses nextyear.

“We have no new revenue coming in next year,” Rudman said.

A budget for the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, must beapproved by Sept. 15.

Following a short executive session, aldermen voted to reinstatefirefighter Andrew Graham.

Graham had been laid off while officials investigated somequestions that had arisen about his state certification. Fernaldsaid Graham’s personnel file had been incomplete previously, butthe city had received a letter from the state saying that Grahamhad met certification requirements.