City Council raises garbage fee, rates

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By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor

The Gadsden City Council voted to raise the residential garbage collection fee from $13 to $20 per month at its March 7 meeting.

The action will amend City Ordinance 106-86 (a), part of the city’s code on collection and disposal of solid waste.

“Garbage is not a net positive for the City of Gadsden,” said District 5 Councilman Jason Wilson. “We lose money providing garbage service, so it’s not like the city is making resources off of this (increase). At best, we’re trying to cover the cost of providing garbage service to the community. So when the cost for garbage collection goes up — with fuel costs and with wear and tear on the vehicles and our contract with other people to move our garbage and where we dispose of that garbage, in our landfill or whatnot — those costs are passed on to the city, to the citizens.”

Wilson explained that the shift in cost was partially triggered by the city’s four-year contract with Advanced Disposal expiring, which, with rising garbage service costs, necessitated negotiating a new contract with a local landfill.

Director of City Services Tena King noted that the Public Works Department also picks up debris free of additional charge, which she said was also factored into the decision.

“I don’t want to move to there being a charge for that,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a good direction to move in, but we have to do something.”

According to Wilson, Gadsden is the only city in the area to his knowledge that does not charge for debris pickup services.

“It still remains that we’re probably the second-lowest monthly charge from the data that I saw,” said Council President and District 4 Councilman Kent Back. “This is just us being responsive to the changing atmosphere of garbage and landfill costs and fuel and employee costs.”

Back claimed that the city’s garbage collection rates had remained “stagnant” for the past 20 years, and that a change was necessary.

“Some people kind of crossed up two different conversations that this council had been having over the last few years,” Wilson said. “One was about the amount of uncollected garbage fees that we have. This is not an attempt to address that. That is its own issue that we’re still working on coming up with a solution for. This was directly associated to the cost to actually correct this garbage. That’s all it was.”

The council also voted — minus District 3 Councilman Larry Avery, who abstained — to increase rental rates for facilities owned by the city’s parks and recreation department. The council members discussed amending the resolution in the future to better accommodate Carver Community Center in particular.

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