Montgomery residents, mayor respond to proposed trash fee increa - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Montgomery residents, mayor respond to proposed trash fee increase

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

A proposed garbage fee hike has some Montgomery residents talking. Some say it will put a strain on citizens but city officials say it's necessary to keep the city's trash operations running the way they are.

Public hearings were held Tuesday on the proposal and the city's $226-million budget for next year.

When it comes Montgomery's sanitation operations, Mayor Todd Strange says the city is coming up about $3 million short. 

"There's been some shortfalls in the cost versus revenue,"  he said. 

It costs the city $18 million to do pick up and disposal and the city is only getting $15 million in revenue.

The proposed 2015 budget includes a garbage fee increase to make up the difference. 

Monthly collection fees could go from $20 to $25 for residential households and $24 to $40 for businesses. 

"We asked for up to five dollars in the proposal but we would probably not do that all at one time. We would phase that in over the period of time that it would take us to raise the $3 million," the mayor told WSFA. 

He says the increase also covers costs for work at the city's landfill. 

"ADEM has required us to do certain work at the landfill and that work is going to cost us several million dollars," Strange said at Tuesday night's meeting. 

The proposed hike garnered reaction from concerned citizens.

"I'd like you to take into consideration the needs of the elderly that are going to have to bear this burden with the prices of food and medicine already going up, those who are on a fixed income and those who are already living below the poverty level in the city of Montgomery," said Murphy Green, pastor of Clay Street Baptist Church. 

The mayor says this solution keeps the city from having to cut services or from other departments like police and fire. 

"The alternative is to decrease services, to go to one day a week or do away with the trash but those are not things we want to do. We're in the south. It gets hot a lot. And so we want to make sure that families can get rid of their garbage with some regularity," Mayor Strange added. 

The mayor says there's $1.9 million in the proposed budget to give all city employees additional money in their pocket.

A study showed that service workers in the city of Montgomery are making less than others in nearby cities. So to help bring the sanitation workers' salaries up to current market value, they would get a bigger percentage of all raises over the next few years.

The city saw a 25% increase in healthcare costs. It currently absorbs two thirds of healthcare costs for city workers. With this increase, city workers will see a $30 increase in their monthly premiums

The Montgomery city council will discuss the budget further in a work session on September 9th. Then at their meeting in two weeks, they will vote to approve it or make modifications.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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