Trash removal fees will be coming to Desloge.
On Monday night, the Board of Aldermen voted 4-1 to charge $14 monthly per household for the now free service.
Alderman J.D. Hodge voted against it and Deion Christopher was absent.
There is no set date yet for the start of the new fees.
After an impassioned speech, Alderman Alvin Sutton, who has been on the board for 12 years, made the motion for the fees.
“I’ll fall on the sword,” he said. “I feel like the sun is setting on my little time here anyway.”
The city budgeted $269,000 from general funds for solid waste this year.
“We're just throwing money away,” Sutton said. “Guess what? We're hauling it to the dump and throwing it away. That's all we're doing.”
He said residents could have free trash service or improvements like more sidewalks. He said sidewalks alone on Desloge Drive cost the city $312,000 and about $170,000 on State Street.
“We've already got people blowing up Facebook,” he explained. “They want sidewalks all the way down Desloge Drive to Walmart, and they want sidewalks on Chestnut.
"But here's the deal. They can have free trash or we can have sidewalks. We're not going to have both. The money's not there.”
It’s hard for residents to understand the budget process unless they spend time on the board, he said. Personally, he doesn’t have a lot of extra money to give away either.
“Bottom line is it's about sacrifice,” he added.
“The point is we have a nice community,” Sutton continued, “We have a beautiful community, and if you talk to people from Park Hills, they love what's going on here. You talk to people from Bonne Terre, they like what we're doing here.”
Alderman John Wigger agreed and said that it’s things like sidewalks that will attract people to Desloge, not the lack of trash fees.
Alderman Terry Cole seconded Sutton’s motion and voted yes.
Wigger and Alderwoman Kelly Farkas both voted yes and said it was “for the good of the community.”
The $14 per month fee will include a free 96-gallon cart.
The board decided to go with one size of carts after learning that there is not a significant difference between the 96 gallon and the 64 gallon.
One of the biggest concerns brought up at the public forum regarding the trash fees was being able to maneuver the large carts.
Public Works Director Jason Harris said there is just a one inch and a three-quarter height difference between the two carts, and the 96 gallon is nine inches bigger around.
Mayor David Shaw said it will save the city money to just have the one size.
He also said he’s ridden two trash routes with city’s solid waste employees and he thinks it’s time something was done to protect them.
“You see them struggle with some of the weight that they have to pick up,” Shaw said. “And when you see two guys having to grapple with one just throw it in there, they’re trying to do the right thing. I think it's an unsafe situation. So from a safety standpoint, I think there's a lot of validity to go to a 96 gallon container.”
The trash truck will be outfitted with a mechanical arm to lift up the carts, so that the solid waste workers won’t have to lift the bags anymore.
The meeting started with a prayer from Shaw as the city is mourning the loss of Public Works Department employee Bill Helms.
“We lost a family member in Desloge,” said Cole, who used to be the director of the Parks and Recreation Department for Desloge. “Hearts are hurting, and they are going to be hurting. Just remember to keep them in your prayers.”
They approved a change order of $49,140.31 for the State Street project as City Administrator Dan Bryan said the change order was because of engineering oversights.
He also told the board the work for the project is about halfway done. Cochran Engineering has until Nov. 19 to complete the project.
Sutton said he understands residents’ frustration regarding the project.
“That's my main route,” he said. “So I understand the aggravation. I get and I feel their pain, but it will be nice when it's done.”
They approved an update to the Desloge Police Department’s K9 program policy.
“The guidelines are more restrictive and it’s just a much, much better and more in-depth policy than what we’ve had in the past,” Police Chief James “Jebo” Bullock said.
They heard public comment from residents Joyce Hamblin and Steve Spence. Hamblin asked the board to consider putting a microphone on the podium, so it’s easier to hear what’s said during meetings, and to put in a lane divider at the intersections of Monroe Street and Highway 8.
Spence lives on State Street. With the construction being done on the street, his sidewalk has been replaced and his yard is more sloped than before. After the heavy rainfall on Labor Day weekend, he had more water in his basement than he’s ever had before. He is hoping the city can come up with a solution, such as a retaining wall. No decisions were made.
In other business, the board:
- Approved allowing city department directors to take home their work vehicles if they live within a 15-mile radius, with Sutton providing the only no vote.
- Decided not to update or change the city’s pandemic plan after talking to City Attorney Scott Reid.
- Approved several bids, including $21,990.44 for a Kubota UTV for Brightwell Park. The city had budgeted $22,500 for the UTV. They also approved $5,989.24 to ABI Attachments for an infield groomer, which is slightly under the $6,000 that was set aside. For Abby Lane improvements, the board approved a bid of $10,045 to Lead Belt Materials. They approved $9,506.11 to A&W Communications for 15 hand-held and 12 mobile radios plus the necessary equipment for the Police Department; $10,000 had been budgeted. The Water Department is in need of upgrades for its SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system. So the board approved $60,527 to Electric Controls Company for the upgrades, which will be paid for using American Rescue Plan funding.
- Approved a livestock permit of three hens to Brittney Davis. She had also requested approval for a goose, but the board decided to wait until Davis could be present at the meeting to answer their questions. Bryan said it was the first goose request for the city.
- Approved up to $35,000 for the Desloge Police Department to purchase another animal control vehicle. The current one was totaled in an accident. The city received $17,000 from insurance for it.
Nikki Overfelt is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.