Real effort needed to fix waste dept.

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 25, 2002

After laying off solid waste employees earlier this year tooffset a department deficit, Brookhaven officials think they havefound a way to get some of those workers back and addressconstituents’ garbage pick up concerns.

The fact is, they haven’t.

Relying on a letter from City Accountant Verbalee Watts, MayorBill Godbold last week suggested using $150,000 in revenue the cityreceives from Grand Gulf to hire more employees in the solid wastedepartment. The inference was the funds are a new source of revenuefor the solid waste department, which currently can use only userfees and a small tax levy to support operations.

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The fact is, it’s not.

The Grand Gulf money is already budgeted to cover variousexpenses in the city’s general fund.

Granted, the general fund is in far better shape than the solidwaste department to absorb the financial hit. Peter, though, betternot expect Paul to be paying him back anytime soon.

The fiscal year 2003 first month’s revenue and expenditurereport shows the city’s solid waste department already running at a$33,000 deficit. Property tax revenue that will start arriving inJanuary will help, but expenses are still expected to exceedrevenue.

City officials are studying commercial garbage rates in aneffort to more fairly charge for services. Some believe that is theright approach to solving the problem, and they hope time is on thecity’s side.

The fact is, it’s not.

Hiring more solid waste employees may get garbage picked up morequickly and reduce the number of calls that aldermen get fromconstituents. But the hirings would only add to expenses in adepartment that continues to lose money.

The fact is, solid waste operations must become moreefficient.

If that can’t be done with the current work force, maybe it istime for the city to take a hard look at privatization of solidwaste services. The idea surfaces from time to time, but aldermenhave yet to take any real steps in that direction. Another optionwould be raising rates again, which certainly would not please cityresidents.

The solid waste situation will not cure itself and will not befixed without some substantive changes. That’s a fact that somecity fathers don’t seem to want to accept.

The fact is, they should.