The mayor cited rising wage, benefit, diesel fuel and vehicle maintenance costs as justification for the increase.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- A $1-a-month increase in garbage collection rates will allow the sanitation department to meet its current operating expenses, Mayor Hank Angelo says.
In a special meeting Wednesday, council gave first reading to an ordinance that would increase residential collection rates by $1 a month, effective March 1. It is scheduled for a second reading at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday. Unless it passes as an emergency measure, it will need three readings to become effective.
New standard rate
The new standard monthly rate will be $13.37 for curbside collection. For backyard collection, which is available to elderly residents, the new rate will be $22.37. The new adjusted monthly rates for low-income residents will be $9.12 for curbside collection and $14.72 for backyard collection.
"Every month, we lose $15,000. At least, it gets us in the black," the mayor said of the proposed increase.
The mayor recommended council enact the increase now and determine future rate increases later this year. Employee hospitalization costs rose 133 percent, or about $161,000 over the past five years, and this, alone, would justify the rate increase, which will generate about $187,000 a year, Angelo said.
The mayor also cited increasing costs for wages, fringe benefits, diesel fuel and vehicle maintenance. The last rate increase was 2000.
City workers collect garbage in 96-gallon containers on wheels, which the city provides to residents. Although Warren is one of the few local municipalities where city workers still collect garbage, the mayor said he favors having the employees continue the service, rather than contracting with a private company.
"We provide an excellent service. We provide a service well beyond what a lot of the private companies are doing," Angelo added.
"I feel confident that council will not let the sanitation department go under. I'm not in favor of getting rid of it. I know that the men and women there are committed to keeping their jobs. They do an outstanding job," said James A. "Doc" Pugh, D-6th, council's health and welfare committee chairman.
Council's finance and health and welfare committees will meet jointly on the proposed rate increase at 4 p.m. Monday.
Council also received confidential draft copies Wednesday of a performance audit of the sanitation department, which was performed by the state auditor's office. The state auditor will determine when the report is to be made public.