WARREN Council delays increase in garbage fee

A committee meeting will be called next week for more discussion.
WARREN -- Passage of a $1-per-month increase in garbage collection fees has been put off for at least two weeks.
Last week, council gave first reading to legislation to increase the monthly fee to $13.37 for curbside collection and to $22.37 per month for backyard pickup, beginning March 1.
Mayor Hank Angelo has said the additional money would allow the environmental services department to meet operating expenses.
The department experienced a $161,000 deficit last year, but survived because of carry-over from the previous year.
"The department is losing $15,000 a month," Angelo said.
Legislation amended
Council amended the legislation Wednesday so that the $1-per-month increase would be effective only through the end of 2003. At the beginning of 2004, it would return to its current rate.
John Homlitas, D-3rd, initially had said he would seek passage of the legislation but opted instead for second reading after several council members said they're opposed. Legislation typically receives three readings before passage, unless it's an emergency.
Robert Marchese, D-at large, asked when the department is expected to run out of money. When he learned the shortage would start in November, he said he is opposed.
"I'm not going to go along with that," Marchese said. "We need $1 now because we're broke, but we don't have a plan. [The sewage department] is broke so we have to bail them out, and it's all on the residents and 11 percent of them are out of work."
Gary Fonce, D-at large, favored an increase that lasts only nine months, but he wants to see the recommendations for cost savings when a final performance audit of the department is released by the state.
Wants information first
James A. "Doc" Pugh, D-6th, wants information about creating a station where solid waste is separated for disposal that would be operated by the city before he'll support an increase. The transfer station is operated by Warren Recycling Inc., which contracts with the city.
Angelo suggested getting an opinion on city operation of a station from an unbiased consultant, opinion rather than from city employees.
"You've held this thing for four months and haven't asked me for anything, now I'm asking you for passage of the legislation," the mayor said.
Council was initially presented with legislation to increase garbage rates in October.
Angelo said if Pugh puts in writing what he wants, the administration and department heads will provide what they know.
Pugh said he'll call a health and welfare committee meeting for next week to discuss the issue.
Renee Cicero, acting director of the environmental services department, was frustrated by the delay.
"You can't wait until you're out of money," she said.
If the increase took effective immediately, it would allow the department to break even for the year, Cicero said.

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