City Council votes down measure to hike trash fee hike

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By Jesef Williams

City residents won’t be required to pay extra garbage-collection fees.

City Council voted down an ordinance last week that would have raised the trash rollaway fee from $15 to $16 per month. The vote was 2-5, with Mayor Joe Shaw and Councilman John Howard voting in favor of the measure.

Councilwoman Sara Eddins said it would be unfair to ask residents to pay more for any service, given the sour economy.

“I just don’t think we need to raise anything else at this time,” Eddins said. “A dollar will do a lot of things for people who are in need.”

The extra garbage fees would have helped pay for the $925,000 expansion of the solid waste transfer station, which also handles waste for the county.

Related business

In a related matter, council voted 6-1 in favor of the amendment to the 2009-10 budget, which calls for transferring $465,000 from its general fund to its solid waste fund. The money will be repaid to the general fund at a 1 percent interest rate over eight years, said city finance director Jim Wilson.

Wilson said an interfund loan is not something that happens often, but it’s legal. This is the first time in his 15 years with the city that the measure has been taken.

“It’s less expensive to the citizens,” Wilson said. “As opposed to going and doing conventional borrowing – it appears to make fiscal sense to me.”

The measure also allows residents to use credit and debit cards to pay their utility bills.

Councilwoman Linda Blackmon-Brace voted against it.

Although officials agreed that no service fees would be charged to customers who use their cards, Blackmon-Brace believes that won’t always be the case.

“I think it’s opening up a can of worms,” she said. “It seems like a good thing, but eventually it’s going to cost.”

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152