The biggest piece of news coming out of the Walker County Commission’s 3-hour work session on Thursday was officials are considering a large rate increase on garbage pickup for residential customers. The jump would take the current $42 per quarter to $59 per quarter, a 30 percent jump.
An increase might be needed to keep services strong, but that much of an increase at one time should have never been considered.
The increase would net the county nearly $1 million in added revenue. In the same proposal that would increase the rate to $59 per quarter, a revenue number was included if a decision was made to force mandatory service on county residents, and that revenue would come out at nearly $3.2 million.
The City of Jasper currently has a rate of $42 per quarter. Cullman County has its residential pickup rate at $36. During the work session, both of those rates were mentioned with a few county administrative officials saying they were lower because they were mandatory. Unfortunately, the required rate in the proposal given by Walker County would have a mandatory rate remain at $59.
The big question being considered is should the county keep garbage service or even the solid waste department as a whole or sell it to private company. Commission chairman Steve Miller said a survey sent out to customers had come back with overwhelming support that the county handle garbage service and not turn it over to someone else. The Daily Mountain Eagle asked for a copy of those survey questions, but they had not been received by press time on Friday. We were told rates were not included on the survey. Seeing a rate increase, especially one that substantial, could change a lot of those responses.
The DME does our own poll each week at mountaineagle.com. Our poll beginning Monday will ask the same questions (if we can obtain a copy of them) and include what rates would be with those options. That should give officials a true glimpse at what the public thinks about the issue.
No commissioners expressed support for a 30 percent rate increase on residential garbage pickup during Thursday’s work session. District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis came out against the idea completely.
It is often said that some ideas don’t pass the smell test. The idea of a $17 per quarter increase on Walker County citizens’ garbage rates certainly doesn’t, even if we are talking about trash.