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City lease purchases trash truck

After deciding at a special meeting last month that the city was going to remain in the trash business, the Desloge Board of Aldermen earlier this week approved the lease purchase of a new garbage truck for solid waste removal.

Now that the question of whether or not to continue providing city residents with garbage pick-up seems to have been decided — at least for the short term — other questions remain to be answered.

Should trash service still be provided at no charge for city residents? Could the city begin billing for the service? Should the job be bid out to an outside waste collection service with residents paying a monthly fee?

Could the city convince Desloge voters to pass a half-cent sales tax to provide another income source for the city’s police and fire departments and thereby free up the funds to be used for trash pickup? These are among the many questions board members have wrestled with for years as the cost of trash pick-up has continued to rise.

Another concern that continues to keep city officials up at night is the future of the St. Francois County Transfer Station in Park Hills. If it were to ever close, the city’s solid waste will have to be transported to a landfill near Sikeston — increasing fuel costs, as well as taking hours away from city public works employees who could otherwise be spending their time working on projects within the city limits.

Now that the board of aldermen has approved the truck’s lease purchase, City Administrator Dan Bryan is hoping the city will have the time to focus on options that might provide a solution of how the city can continue providing the money needed to keep offering the service at no cost.

“In order to stay in the trash business, we needed a new vehicle to facilitate that, so that’s why we went with this lease purchase,” he said. “We went locally and submitted requests from about five different banks and received numbers back from three banks. First State Community Bank was selected for that.

“Again, this is one of those things that wasn’t a grand solution to the problem — it was just kind of, ‘Temporarily, here’s the deal, but we’re going to have to come up with some other option.’ At last month’s special meeting, the board spoke about putting a half-cent sales tax on the ballot — Proposition P for public safety — which would free up money in the general fund to allow us to have some flexibility with solid waste.

“It wasn’t a solution for solid waste specifically. It was just freeing up money in the overall budget through this public safety proposition that would give more money to police and fire and allow us to use what we’re currently using for police and fire to pay for the collection of solid waste.”

According to Bryan, a half-cent sales tax would bring in around $430,000 each year, but with the recent failure of the proposed internet “use tax” to win the approval of city voters, the question remains if the Desloge electorate is in the mood to pay additional taxes — no matter what kind or for what reason.

In addition to that, there are more than a few long-time residents questioning why another sales tax is needed when a sales tax they believed would provide funding for free garbage pick-up into perpetuity was passed back in the 70s.

It was at the July city meeting that Alderman Chris Gremminger informed the handful of residents who showed up for a public meeting on garbage pick-up, that no matter what voters might have been told at the time, the sales tax was never intended to pay for collection of the city’s solid waste.

Alderman Alvin Sutton left last month’s meeting openly frustrated about the situation when he questioned his fellow board members if they believed that voters would be willing to support another sales tax.

“My fear is that people are tired of taxes,” Sutton said at the time. “We already discussed the 1976 use tax during the public comment portion of the meeting. I think anytime you mention a tax of any kind it scares people — and rightfully so. I appreciate that.

“My biggest fear is that, if we put the issue on the ballot and it doesn’t pass, we will be right back where we’re at we will have extended the problem for another year and then we will be out the $4,000 or $5,000 it takes to put the issue on the ballot to begin with.”

“In order to stay in the trash business, we needed a new vehicle to facilitate that, so that’s why we went with this lease purchase.” — Dan Bryan, Desloge city administrator

A conversation last month about funding the cost of garbage pick-up in Desloge results in a heated moment between Alderman Chris Gremminger, left, and City Administrator Dan Bryan. Tempers cooled and by the time the August meeting rolled around, board members voted to lease purchase a new garbage truck.

A conversation last month about funding the cost of garbage pick-up in Desloge results in a heated moment between Alderman Chris Gremminger, left, and City Administrator Dan Bryan. Tempers cooled and by the time the August meeting rolled around, board members voted to lease purchase a new garbage truck.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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