Vote on garbage hike halted again in Columbus

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  It's an issue that has been on the table in Columbus for more than two years- a proposed increase in trash pick-up.

But Tuesday, the hike hit another road block as council members continue to be torn on the controversial issue.

Columbus council members are clear- they don't want to raise taxes and fees. But when it comes to trash pick-up, the city may have no choice. Columbus faces a deficit of more than $39 million in the Integrated Waste Fund if the $14 monthly garbage fee stays the same over the next few years.

"I recommend a $2 per year increase for 5 years- $2 per month over the next 5 years which would be $24 a year," said City Manager Isaiah Hugley.

That means residents will pay $16 a month for garbage pick-up the first year, $18 dollars a month the second year and so on over a five year period.

"It wouldn't take care of the deficit we're going to face but it would close the gap significantly," said Mayor Jim Wetherington.

Even though the proposed hike has gone back and forth in the city government, council members held off on voting to implement it.

"I appreciate you pointing out that we've been going over this since 2008 but I would submit to you that every time you present it to us and don't get any action, you've got your answer-we're not ready to raise the fee yet," said Skip Henderson, District 10 at Large.

"At this point in time, where we're at in the economy, as far as I'm concerned, I'm not ready or prepared to make that decision today," Glenn Davis, District 2.

"If we don't do something with this garbage fee, adjusting the rates a little bit, there's going to be an issue. We're going to have to cut services and not provide the services that we provide now. There's a crisis ahead if we don't do something," the Mayor added.

The City Manager's Office will be bringing new numbers back to council in the next few week, like a 10 year projection of the Integrated Waste Fund with the different raises.

Isaiah Hugley says Columbus is also ready to go to mandatory recycling. He's proposing that the city make recycling a requirement once the new Sustainability and Recycling Center on Schatulga Road is complete.

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