Friday, March 18, 2011

TOP STORY > >Funds for garbage service

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s sanitation de-partment received approval from the city council Thursday night to secure a $1.3 million short-term loan to automate the city’s trash pickup service.

The loan will allow the department to purchase three new trucks, two knuckle boomers and enough trash carts to provide for all city residents and businesses.

The automation is part of a multi-prong plan to balance the department’s long-running deficit. The department finished about $400,000 in the red in 2010, and money from the city’s reserves were used to balance the department’s budget.

Earlier this year the council voted to raise rates by about $4 a month going from $11 for most residents to $14.50. The automated trash pickup, which should start in May, will also drop trash pickup from twice a week to once a week.

“The rates will have to be revisited in five years,” Finance Director Paul Mushrush said when the council approved the new rates. It had been 11 years since the last rate increase.

On Thursday night, Mush-rush said more than likely the $1.3 million would be paid back over a five-year period. He told the council it was not necessary to get the council’s approval for the loan, but that it was good protocol to have the council’s backing.

Mushrush said he is shopping around for the best rate.

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.

Once automation starts, the city will continue to pick up recyclables—aluminum, cardboard, newspapers and plastics—provided they are all separated and placed in approved recyclable containers.

The city will also pick up 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.

In other council business:

 The council waived competitive bidding to allow the city to spend $108,000 with T&R Utilities of Pencil Bluff for the construction, expansion and installation of water lines. The company had won the original bid and the water department felt going out for bids again on a continuation would be counterproductive. The council agreed.

 In his monthly report to the council, Police Chief Gary Sipes said his department responded to 3,103 calls during February.

The police made 248 adult arrests and 22 juvenile arrests during the month.

Tracking violent crimes for the month of February, Jacksonville had no homicides, sexual assaults or arson.

There were two robberies, seven felony assaults, 11 burglaries, 45 thefts and eight stolen vehicles reported during the month.

 Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, in his monthly report, said his department responded to 213 rescue calls, 67 still alarms, 21 general alarms and had 237 ambulance runs during February.

Estimated fire loss for February was placed at $15,500, while fire savings was estimated to be $52,500.

 Jim Hurley and former Mayor Tommy Swaim were reappointed to the advertising and promotion commission.