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Aldermen pass small increase in garbage fee

Brookhaven aldermen approved an 85 cents a month increase in thecity’s garbage pickup fee Tuesday after receiving a new contractfrom a private service provider.

Mayor Bob Massengill said the price for twice-weekly serviceprovided by Waste Management will be $11.05 a month. The contractalso includes a fuel provision that could change the per-householdcharge to the city in the future.

Having pledged at budget time to only raise customers’ garbagefees enough to cover the contract increase, aldermen last nightincreased the monthly garbage pickup charge from $10.20 to $11.05 amonth. The amount customers pay monthly for trash pickup willremain the same at $6.05.

The fuel provision generated some discussion among board membersTuesday. The contract calls for a quarterly review of fuel pricesand rate adjustments if fuel costs go up or down by 10 percent ormore, Massengill said.

The mayor pointed out that gasoline prices have been going downsince the contract rates were prepared.

“We should see the benefits of that,” the mayor said.

The mayor’s initial recommendation was to adjust customers’monthly garbage pickup rates based on the quarterly fuel costreview. A 10 percent change would mean about 12 cents a month moreor less depending on fuel cost activity.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron, however, suggested the cityhold the garbage pickup fee at $11.05 a month unless a change isabsolutely necessary.

When fuel costs go down, he indicated the city could build upreserve funds for the solid waste operation. Also, when fuel costsgo up, having a reserve fund could allow the city to maintain the$11.05 rate without it also increasing.

Massengill agreed with Cameron’s suggestion, but aldermen onlyacted last night to raise the fee by 85 cents a month. The boarddid not address how future price fluctuations would be handled.

“This is new for all of us, and we’ve got to see what happenswith gasoline prices,” Massengill said.

In other activity Tuesday, Massengill said planning consultantWoody Sample would be visiting the city soon to discuss a CommunityDevelopment Block Grant application for funding water linereplacement.

“We’ve got numerous lines in the city where we need to considerreplacing lines,” Massengill said.

On a related note, City Attorney Joe Fernald said 71 letters hadbeen sent to property owners whose land is needed for easements toallow work on a city sewer line replacement project. Fernald saidhe hoped to start in-person contacts with the property ownerswithin the next two weeks.

Also last night, Alderman at large Les Bumgarner updated boardmembers on activities by a subcommittee of aldermen working toimprove the city’s cemeteries. Bumgarner expressed appreciation toKaren Sullivan and Master Gardeners for their help in improvingcemetery appearance.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to include them in some things in thefuture,” Bumgarner said.

Also, the alderman suggested formation of a citizens advisorycommittee on cemetery activities. The panel could be made up ofrepresentatives of each of the city’s cemeteries.

“A lot of times, cemeteries get overlooked,” Bumgarner said.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell updated the board on the statusof a cell tower ordinance being prepared by an aldermensubcommittee. Maxwell said he is trying to line up experts to comeand talk to the subcommittee, which includes Aldermen Cameron andBuddy Allen, about what should be included in the ordinance.

“We don’t feel like we can make a final decision until we’veevaluated all the scenarios,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell has been in contact with one cellular telephone servicerepresentative who is pressing for approval to locate a tower inthe city. While three places have been approved as a possible sitefor a cell tower, the alderman said no city action has beentaken.

“We need to make sure we’re making the best decision for thecitizens of Brookhaven,” Maxwell said.

Continuing a worker recognition program that began a few weeksago, City Clerk’s Office and City Court employees with five or moreyears of service were honored last night. Those recognized includedCity Clerk Mike Jinks, 12 years; Marsha Fairman 17 years; BrendaSmith, five years; Phyllis Watkins, 11 years and Kathy Allen, eightyears.