An ordinance to raise the rates was introduced during Tuesday’s regular council meeting. Council members spent time discussing the possible rate hike during a work session that lasted nearly four hours Monday.
In a move suggested by city clerk Kathy Chambless, residential rates will go from $8 a month to $12 a month. Garbage fees for businesses will go from $20 to $25 a month.
A 2012 audit report indicated the city lost about $200,000 in 2012 on garbage pickup, Chambless said.
“For a number of years, the revenue generated (by the garbage pickup) has not kept pace with the costs,” Chambless told the council. “This year, we expect the garbage fund to have an operating fund loss of $350,000. Based on the fact that we have looked at numerous cities and what is being charged for garbage pickup, and the fact that state law recommends that the amount you charge for your garbage service, the city should at least break even.”
Chambless added that the $12 a month fee would still be far less than what many cities across Alabama charge for garbage service. She said the council should also consider raising rates for disposing of garbage at the city landfill.
If the council approves the ordinance, it will be the first rate hike since the city started charging for garbage service in 2001 and would go into effect at the start of 2014.
Council president Gary Cowen said the amount of service the city offers exceeds what most cities offer, and for a much smaller monthly fee. City sanitation workers, in addition to picking up garbage, remove leaves and tree limbs from properties at no extra cost to the homeowners. “I’ve checked and I couldn’t find anybody who has held their prices the same for 13 years,” Cowen said, “and for the amount of service we give, it was much more service than what anybody else gives.”
Earlier this summer, the Walker County Commission raised rates for garbage pickup in the county from $12 to $14 a month.
Council member Danny Gambrell said across the state, rates average $14.81 a month for garbage pickup alone.
“We’ve known for a while that we’ve been losing money for years, and during the last recession we were hesitant to take anything out of anybody’s pocket,” Cowen said, “but the losses have gone on for a long time.”
“We have to do something,” Gambrell added. “It’s not a popular thing to do, but I think it’s something we have to do if we’re going to continue offering the services. And in my opinion, the services we offer are far superior to other cities in what we offer.”
In other business, council members:
•approved the minutes from the Oct. 1 meeting.
•heard from James Hood, who complained about the Jasper Housing Authority and issues regarding kids who don’t live there playing in the area. Hood said Jasper police have stopped kids from playing there if they don’t live in the Jasper housing Authority.
Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe said housing authority officials set rules regarding who can and cannot be on the property. “We don’t set the rules, we just are asked to enforce them,” Rowe said.
Cowen said the council has no say on housing authority rules and suggested Hood speak with housing authority officials.
•approved a budget amendment to repay Action Properties a retail development rebate that falls under the city’s economic incentive ordinance.
•adopted a resolution concerning properties that fall under the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance.
•introduced an ordinance to amend the city’s business license ordinance regarding issuance fees.
The fee could be raised from $10 to $12 for the next five years, Chambless told council members.
Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey said the city’s current rates is 60 percent of what most city’s charge.
•introduced an ordinance to rezone several parcels of land from R2 (single family residential) to R3 (affordable housing).
The properties are at: 2301 14th Avenue West, 2400 14th Avenue West, 1305 23rd Street West, 1307 23rd Street West, 1316 24th Street West and 1319 24th Street West.
•introduced an ordinance to rezone a piece of land located at 709 19th Street East from R2 (single family residential) to BT (transition business) in order to develop an office.
•introduced an ordinance to rezone several parcels of land along Alabama Avenue from R1 (single family residential) to BT (transition business) for future development.