Wednesday, February 02, 2011

TOP STORY >> Aldermen might raise trash rates

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s City Council meeting set for 7 p.m. Thursday could be one of the longer ones in recent history.

Not only is the mayor going to deliver his state-of- the-city report, the council will also vote on raising garbage rates and moving toward automation. Aldermen will also set a public hearing to discuss acquiring land near Hwy. 161 and I-440 for the state fair and other developments. The city plans to acquire the land through its use of condemnation and eminent domain.

If the city takes the land through this process, then the court system will determine what is fair-market value and the city will have to make arrangements to pay that amount.

The city will unveil its complete plans for acquiring the land at the public hearing.

But at the council meeting, the aldermen will vote on an ordinance that will increase the basic monthly charge from $11 to $17 for residential service and increase the commercial rate to $26 a month.

The city will go from twice- a-week pickup to once-a-week and will move to automate its services with bigger trash cans.

The cost of automating will run the city about $1 million as new trucks will need to be purchased and thousands of 96-gallon garbage containers will have to be purchased and placed at each home or business. The first time a resident needs to replace one of the new containers, it will be at no charge, but after that there will be a $60 fee.

The city will continue to pickup recyclables—aluminum, cardboard, newspapers and plastics—provided they are all separated and placed in approved recyclable containers.

The city will also pickup yard waste—grass clippings, leaves, small limbs—as long as they are placed curbside unobstructed so the trucks can get in and pick up the material.

The rate increase and other changes are needed, according to the mayor and the ordinance, because the sanitation department has not had an increase in 11 years and is operating $400,000 in the red and Jacksonville can no longer afford to continue to subsidize the service to that point.

If the ordinance is approved Thursday, the new rates will start “as soon as practical.” It will take about six months to make the changeover to automated service.