Canton to discuss hiking garbage rate for seniors Thurs.
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@cherokeetribune.com
September 19, 2012 01:32 AM | 1478 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON – The Canton City Council will return to the issue of raising the garbage rate for seniors and the permanently disabled living in the city when it meets at 6 p.m. Thursday.

City staff is proposing an increase from $7.50 per month to $11, which has already been budgeted for in the city’s annual budget. Remaining customers now pay $16.50 and no changes are proposed to increase that fee.

Mayor Gene Hobgood said he is opposed to the increase.

“The reason I don’t favor it is because we’re raising rates on seniors again and yet we’re making thousands and thousands of dollars above our cost already,” he said.

Hobgood said staffers recommended the increase to $11 because the city is paying roughly $10.50 per resident for garbage service, while seniors pay just $7.50. But the city is already doing well financially in relation to trash pick up, he said.

“We’re making a lot of money on garbage, so is there any reason for us to raise the rate or should we continue to give seniors a break?” said the mayor.

The new garbage rate would apply to seniors age 62 or older, said Hobgood. Just fewer than 1,200 Canton homes get senior homestead exemptions, he said.

Hobgood said the reaction he has received from seniors has been unsupportive of the rate hike.

“I have not had a single person ask me to raise their garbage rate,” he said. “Although I have had some that didn’t think we ought to do that.”

Councilman Glen Cummins, who brought the idea forward during budget meetings, said Tuesday he would probably vote for the increase for seniors, but that he was also in favor of rolling back the rates for all other residents.

He said the City Manager Scott Wood put the increase into the budget following the budget discussions.

“When we went through the budgeting process it became evident that what it was costing us was over $10 per person for garbage service and I did not believe that we should be subsidizing seniors. Mr. Wood carried it forward and put it into the budget,” Cummins said. “Since it is costing about $11, I would like to see the cost for others rolled back.”

Cummins said he would like to see Waste Management billing customers direct.

The councilman said the city is now in a four-year contract with two more years to go before it can be renewed. At that time he said the contract could be renegotiated to have a true rate for seniors based on a smaller garbage receptacle and need.

“I can see having a lower price to seniors, but that could be by delivering a smaller garbage can for seniors, and larger cans for a family who would then pay a higher rate,” he said.

Councilman Bob Rush said that he has long been at advocate of seniors as least paying what they are costing the city, but he has not decided how he will vote on the issue.

We have been talking about that for a couple of years. But right now we are up in the air with the fire services,” Rush said. ”I have not made up my mind on this.”
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