Council rejects senior garbage fee increase
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@cherokeetribune.com
September 22, 2012 01:55 AM | 1564 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Debate over increasing the city of Canton’s garbage rate for seniors and the permanently disabled was quashed in a matter of seconds Thursday, when council members unanimously agreed not to change the service cost.

The Canton City Council also unanimously agreed to move ahead with bids for a planned office and SCADA computer monitoring system that allows workers to remotely monitor activity at the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir, despite reservations about the projects.

Additionally, they briefly discussed funding for the fire district during the fast-paced meeting.

As early as February 2011, some Council members had favored increasing the cost for garbage pickup for seniors. City staff recommended increasing the rate for seniors and the disabled from $7.50 per month to $11 to cover the cost the city actually pays per resident for garbage service, which is roughly $10.50. Other customers pay $16.50.

But in a move that appeared to somewhat surprise Mayor Gene Hobgood, who was against the increase, the Council decided not to change the garbage rate.

“I have always been an advocate that we shouldn’t subsidize anyone because although we are making money from the waste collection, the people who are non-seniors are paying more than they should to subsidize what we’re losing from the seniors,” Councilman Bob Rush said.

“But I don’t think as a city, if we’re providing a service, we should make any money on the fees.”

Two residents who spoke during public comment at the beginning of the meeting also voiced their concerns about the fee increase.

Councilman Glen Cummins agreed that charging more would not be a good idea.

“Initially, when I looked at it and saw what we were paying, I was sort of in favor of not subsidizing,” he said.

“But then I started to think that the rates we’re charging are flawed anyway so we’re really not subsidizing. When I take my garbage can out – which is pretty large – and it’s only half-full, maybe we’re not really subsidizing the seniors and actually providing them too large a can.”

Cummins suggested modifying the garbage rates based on garbage can sizes when the city’s contract with Waste Management is up for renewal in about two years.

Council members were scheduled to discuss soliciting bids for SCADA and an office at the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir, but because advertisement for bids had already been published with the council’s permission at the last work session, they simply voted for the solicitation as a formality.

The city is responsible for paying 25 percent of costs while the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority pays for the remainder at the jointly owned and operated reservoir and dam.

Next, the council voted to move discussion of changing the city’s business license fee to their next work session on Oct. 4. It also decided to do the same with discussion of restructuring the city’s long-term debt.

In other business, Councilman John Beresford surprised Cummins, chairman of the council’s Fire Services Committee, in presenting a funding model to pay for the city’s new fire stations and other improvements without first introducing it in the committee, which includes Councilman Hooky Huffman.

Beresford on Thursday proposed a fee that would cost district residents $5.17 per month, modeled after storm water impervious units, he said.

“Modeling it after storm water is probably the most equitable for everybody,” he said. “It’s very simple, clean and in terms of a number we’re talking in essence for seniors to probably have to pay $62.04 a year for this service.”

Beresford said he would like to discuss his plan in more detail at the work session, but Cummins objected. He asked that “normal protocol” be followed by presenting it first in a committee meeting, which he said he would announce later.

The Canton City Council also;

* Unanimously approved a $1,500 Atkins construction contract dealing with record drawings;

* Unanimously approved a resolution to abandon Cochran Road;

* Unanimously approved changing Commerce Boulevard to Northside-Cherokee Boulevard.

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