Havelock commissioners agreed to a higher than expected increase in monthly trash fees as they wrapped up work on the city’s proposed 2013-14 budget Monday night.
Under the unanimously approved hike, monthly residential fees for trash pickup will go from $13.95 to $16.30 starting July 1.
That amounts to a $2.35 increase per month, or about a 17 percent, for city residents. Commercial trash customers will see a fee of $20.15 per cart per month.
The city has been trying to get the solid waste enterprise fund to be self-sufficient ever since undertaking the garbage collection program in 2009 with contractor Waste Industries Inc. The initial fee was $11 per month for customers. In 2010, the monthly fee rose to $13.25 to offset tipping fee increases incurred by the contractor. Fees rose to $13.95 in 2011.
A portion of the fees has been to cover the purchase of a $105,000 knuckle boom truck that is used in the city’s collection of yard waste along with brown and white goods such as furniture and appliances.
In an attempt to streamline costs in the pickup of leaves and other yard debris, Public Services Director Bill Ebron suggested that residents bag their leaves during some months of the year to make pickup more efficient for city workers. The plan would mean city workers and trucks would spend less time at a location picking up leaves, thus saving fuel costs.
Some residents expressed opposition to the proposed plan.
“I’ve had a lot of people call me saying ‘I don’t want to bag it. Charge me more money,’” said Commissioner Will Lewis.
Lewis said fees would have to increase to make the trash program work.
“It’s time to get it done,” Lewis said.
Commissioners favored the increase to $16.30, but Havelock Mayor Jimmy Sanders was concerned about such a large increase in one year.
“I think your motive is honorable. I understand where the board is coming from,” said Sanders, who does not have a vote on the board. “I just think that it is too much for one year. If I had a vote, I would vote against it. I would just like to see it spread out over two or three years. A lot of folks are living on the edge.”
The board agreed to hold the city’s tax rate to 46.5 cents per $100 in property value.
A Consumer Price Index rate increase of 1.7 percent on water and sewer rates is also part of the budget, resulting in an increase of $1.25 per household each month for the typical customer.
Commissioners are poised to approve the city’s $15.6 million budget during its meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Havelock City Hall.
In other business Monday night, the board:
n voted to place $10,000 in an account for the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow.
n voted to spend $11,000 to make repairs and improvements to playground equipment at Walter B. Jones Park and Havelock City Park. The board had concerns that the measures needed to be undertaken immediately before the annual Fourth of July celebration that will bring out thousands to the parks.
n appointed Commissioner Karen Lewis to serve as the city’s representative on the US 70 Economic Impact Study Steering Committee.
n approved $20,000 for the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation Fly-In scheduled for Friday. According to City Manager Jim Freeman, $10,000 will be used initially and the rest as needed.
n approved use of $58,000 by the city manager to use as he deems fit to fund city salaries for two positions cut during the budget process.