Charging a trash removal fee is once again up for debate in Desloge.
No decisions were made at last week's Board of Aldermen meeting, but the board members decided to put the issue back on the agenda for next month.
The city doesn’t charge a fee right now.
“How many cities in the United States, Jason (Harris), do you think have free trash?” Alderman Terry Cole asked the publics works department director.
“Desloge!” Alderman Alvin Sutton piped up.
Cole responded, “Seriously, that’s the way it is.”
Harris acknowledged, pretty much all other cities charge a fee or it’s included in the sales tax.
City Administrator Dan Bryan said they budgeted $269,000 for solid waste this year alone.
It’s time to figure out how to fill that hole in the budget, Cole said.
“It’s just something we need to get serious about,” he added.
Alderman John Wigger said setting a limit on the amount of trash might be the first step.
“You’ve got anybody that's outside of Desloge city limits, they're wanting to bring their trash in and put it at their family's house or in-law's house or friend's house,” he explained. “That's why our dump bills are so high because everyone's doing it and there's no limit.
“So I would think, even if we decided to do a cost per house, you would also have to do a limit of how many bags or how many cans because then you still get to the same problem. Because some will say, ‘Well, we’re already paying for it. So why don't we go ahead and have our family bring it in.’”
The city is considering $11 per household.
Several city residents who attended the meeting were not happy to be discussing the issue again and are not in favor of a possible trash fee. They suggested a public hearing on the issue.
“The other thing I’d like to reiterate is, if we do it privately, right here, and we keep it in Desloge, we can set our rates,” Bryan said. “We keep our employees working. We don't have put it out to the private sector, where we have no control over the rates.”
Mayor David Shaw suggested the board review options which Harris put together a couple of years ago.
“If you could dust that off, that’s something we might want to look at again,” he said.
It will back on the agenda for the Aug. 9 meeting.
The aldermen also discussed the possibility of allowing department leaders to take home their city-owned vehicles.
Cole brought the issue before the board.
“As it is right now, we’ve got salaried guys — they don't get paid for their overtime — that come get their vehicles, go to their points they’re working at, take them back,” he explained. “I think we just cut the time out and save their time and everybody else's.”
He said it’s also a good perk for those employees.
Sutton said this would mean they have to have a written "duty to domicile" policy.
City employees are not required to live within city limits so, Wigger said, they would need to have a mileage cap.
Shaw said he wasn’t in favor of the idea right now and that it would be more economical to compensate them for mileage, which would also require a new policy.
Alderman Deion Christopher was adamantly opposed to letting them take the city vehicles home. He said it would be too much wear and tear on the vehicle.
“It’s a waste of money,” he added.
The board members decided to continue the discussion next month.
The budget ordinances were back on the agenda.
The aldermen approved an ordinance amending the amended adopted annual budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2020. The budget includes expenditures of general fund $2,723,655; transportation fund $334,350; capital fund $327,190; stormwater fund $78,450; special project fund $276,125; waterworks fun $1,363,055; and public safety fund $404,250.
The capital fund was originally $331,690 as approved in the June 28 meeting, which is a $4,500 difference.
They also approved an ordinance to amend the adopted annual budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021. This includes expenditures of general fund $2,894,710; transportation fund $1,411,000; capital fund $458,412; stormwater fund $950,000; special project fund $1,744,086; waterworks fund $1,333,225; and public safety fund $465,703.
In the budget approved on June 28, they general fund expenditures were $2,895,210, a $500 difference. The capital fund was $453,912, a $4,500 difference.
In other business, the board:
- Honored Accounts Payable Clerk Debbie Hartmann as the employee of the quarter.
- Heard an update from a Cochran Engineering representative about the Roosevelt Street stormwater project and approved the project to move forward. The engineering cost of the project is an estimated $600,000, which is in this year’s city budget. This will be the next project to take place after the State Street improvements.
- Approved a livestock permit for six hens for Kelly Conway, who lives on Grant Street.
- Approved the purchase of a booster pump, which was budgeted for.
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.