Rate increase not out of question

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

After approving a private garbage pick up contract Tuesday,Brookhaven aldermen are now considering a $1.50 a month rateincrease and other recommendations that will allow the continuationof city-run trash pick up services.

The rate increase, which would raise the monthly garbage fee to$13.50 a month, was among 11 recommendations presented by analdermen subcommittee during Tuesday’s board meeting.

“None of us wants to do this, but we feel this is necessary,”said Ward Four Alderman Bob Massengill while discussing theproposed increase.

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Massengill said the increase would provide additional revenue topurchase equipment needed for the city’s trash pick up operation.If approved, the new rate would take effect April 1 and would putBrookhaven on par with what McComb charges for its solid wasteservices, the alderman said.

Massengill said nobody wants to see higher garbage rates.

“Nobody wants to bag (leaves), either,” he added.

Under the plan, the city would purchase two leaf machines thatwould collect the material at the curbside. At the landfill, pinestraw and leaves would be separated and set aside for anindependent contractor to sell as mulch.

A wood chipping machine would also be purchased to assist intrash services.

“We know it’s not perfect, but we’re trying to come up with thebest we can,” Massengill said about the recommendations.

Massengill’s fellow subcommittee members Dorsey Cameron, of WardOne, and Terry Bates, of Ward Two, addressed their points ofinterest in the recommendations.

Bates cited a proposed change in city ordinances to make landowners responsible for garbage on their land, even if it placedthere by other people. He said if land owners are held responsible,then they are more likely to file charges against the culprits.

“This is the only way we feel like we could do that,” Batessaid.

Cameron said his top concern was the solid waste departmentemployees.

A recommendation calls for seven employees of the 17-memberdepartment to be assigned to trash services, with remainingemployees assimilated into other city departments where possible.Cameron questioned how many could be moved to the street or waterdepartments.

“They’re always short when it comes to employees,” Cameronsaid.

Water Department Superintendent Lanny Dickey said he couldprobably use two employees.

Street Department Superintendent Jimmy Griffin said he couldtake three or four. He added that he would like to see themassigned to picking up litter around the city.

“We’ve got a bad litter problem,” Griffin said.

Mayor Bill Godbold said the recommendations were wellthought-out. The board acknowledged the subcommittee’srecommendations but agreed with Godbold’s suggestion to wait untilthe next board meeting to formally adopt and begin implementingthem.

“We might want to add something,” Godbold said.

In a related matter, Willie Smith, who would remain in charge oftrash pick up services, told officials that the city’s trashtrailers would have to be modified for leaf pick up.

The estimated cost to modify three trailers was $3,500 each, ornew trailers could be built at a cost of $7,800, Smith said. Theboard did not act on the trailer modification plan.

Consultant Butch Lambert said it “remains to be seen” whetherthe subcommittee’s recommendations will address the city’s solidwaste problems. He commended the subcommittee on its work.

“I think the committee has done a good job,” Lambert said. “Thishas been a tough process, and they’ve come out with a good, solidplan.”

With a requirement that garbage and trash be separated when putout for pick up, Lambert acknowledged that citizens will play arole in determining the success of the plan.

“It’s going to require everybody’s cooperation,” Lambertsaid.