Trash talk consumes council
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle residents will soon get their say on a proposal for the city to take over garbage service.
A public hearing has been set for June 14 so residents can express their opinions on a plan for the city to provide garbage and yard waste removal. The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Mayor Dwight Tankersley is proposing the city provide garbage service and end its contact with the county. He also proposes providing weekly pickup of lawn debris, a service the city is now providing but on an irregular schedule.
It was the problems associated with the lawn waste removal that prompted Tankersley to come up with his plan. Because it's financially impossible for the city to invest in expensive equipment just for the removal of lawn debris, Tankersley said he started examining possibilities to expand city services to include garbage pick-up, too.
"We're looking at (charging) the same rate as the county, but with an extra service for our residents," Tankersley said.
Tankersley said he often hears complaints from residents that yard waste – such as leaves and limbs – sit for weeks before they are removed. Tankersley aims to provide weekly removal of such items and to accomplish this goal, the city would purchase three automated garbage trucks. The trucks would cost a combined $480,000. Other initial costs would include:
Currently, there are 4,637 customers paying for garbage service in the city. An additional 108 people receive the service free through a health department program for low-income residents.
The plan calls for residents to pay $9.50 a month, the same as the current charge.
Tankersley estimates monthly operating expenses, including billing, landfill costs and employees' salaries and insurance, would be some $27,751 a month. Also, the city would pay an estimated $16,960 a month for seven years to cover equipment costs. While initial estimates show a monthly shortfall, Tankersley said the cost of equipment should come in lower than estimated. Also, he said the city would save money by limiting the operation of the larger trucks currently used to remove lawn waste.
If the city does take over the garbage service – the current contract with the county ends in July – any future rate increases would be in the hands of the city council. On Tuesday, the council gave Tankersley permission to explore the options, but the matter of how the city would pay for the initial costs remains undecided.
Tankersley said the city could finance the project through bonds, bank financing or using a portion of its reserve funds.