The Havelock Board of Commissioners is appealing to residents one last time for input on the proposed 2013-14 budget, specifically as it relates to yard waste and the cost of trash pickup.
The proposed budget calls for the monthly trash fee to increase from $13.95 to $14.50, but at that price, residents are being asked to bag their leaves and grass clippings to allow for more efficiency — and less cost — during collection.
Though the bags would not be required during what was termed peak leaf season, some residents still didn’t like the idea. They told commissioners during Monday night’s public hearing on the budget that they would rather see the trash fee anywhere from $15 to $15.25 per month to avoid having to bag materials.
"Charge me the extra 45 or 50 cents or whatever for the bags," resident George Corbin told commissioners during Monday night’s public hearing on the budget. "It’s going to cost me more to go get the bags. It’s going to cost me gas to go get the bags. It’s going to cost me time to get the bags."
Other residents voiced concern that the plastic trash bags containing yard waste would simply be ripped open and discarded, making them a waste of money. Others said they would simply not rake their leaves or discard their grass clippings if the materials had to be bagged.
Commissioner Jim Stuart said he didn’t like the idea of seniors or those with health issues having to bag their leaves or grass clippings, adding that commissioners had not made a final decision on the issue.
Commissioner Will Lewis said the goal was to make trash collection — and any city service for that matter — efficient with the lowest cost as possible to city residents.
Havelock Mayor Jimmy Sanders said the argument came down to one factor.
"The question now is, how much do you want to be aggravated to save," he said. "It’s a balancing act between more aggravation and less money."
Commissioners plan to meet again at 6 p.m. on Monday at Havelock City Hall for a final budget session. Board members said they wanted to hear from residents on the trash issue before the meeting and would most likely make a final decision then before a final vote on the 2013-14 spending plan on June 24.
The total budget of $15.6 million keeps the property tax rate at .465 cents per $100 in property value but does call for a trash increase — based on increases in tipping fees and fuel costs from the trash contractor — and water and sewer increases that will cost the average user about $1.25 per month.
The budget also calls for the elimination of two city workers and the reduction of hours for a third. That did not please resident Sean Lynch, a Cherry Point worker about to be furloughed.
"I know what it’s like to lose your position through no fault of your own," he told commissioners. "Myself personally, I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra on my tax, even with my furlough. It doesn’t have to be a dollar. It could be a quarter, 50 cents. If everybody paid that, that would save jobs."
Stuart thanked city staffers for the work they put in to balance a budget that is about $6 million less than the current budget and about $2 million less than the 2011-12 budget.
"It’s probably the worst budget I’ve been involved with with the city," Finance Director Lee Tillman said of the economic factors that led to the smaller budget. "It’s been awful."
Commissioners must approve the budget by June 30.