By Kevin Kelley
An ordinance seeking to extend the monthly $10 garbage collection fee for another two years was introduced at Fairview Park City Council’s Monday night regular meeting.
Finance Director Lisa Rocco told council members at a Nov. 28 committee meeting that the fee needs to be extended due to budget constraints and reduced tax revenue due to the stagnant economy.
The trash fee brought in $715,000 this year, Rocco said. Garbage collection costs incurred by the city were $891,000, including $294,000 in “tipping fees” for depositing the city’s trash in an Oberlin landfill.
Mayor Eileen Patton had told West Life in October that she anticipated having to extend the fee, which council passed in April 2010 as part of an effort to fix a budget crisis. The ordinance that imposed the fee authorized it only through the end of this year.
City officials had hoped that by now the economy would have improved enough so that the fee would not have to be extended, Rocco said.
Both Patton and Rocco said there is no plan to make the fee permanent.
“The intent is not to have it forever,” Rocco said.
The fee is billed quarterly and may be paid online, through the U.S. mail or in person. A single payment can also be made annually.
Although council members don’t like having to extend the fee, there seemed to be no resistance to passing the ordinance given today’s financial realities.
The city’s separate garbage-related contracts — for trash collection, processing of recyclables and landfill disposal — are set to expire at the end of June. In response to a question from Ward 2 Councilman Bill Minek, Rocco and Service Director Jim Kennedy said the administration would consider repealing the fee if new contract bids are substantially lower.
Council President Michael Kilbane said he wants the ordinance to go through the perfunctory three readings so residents will have the opportunity to speak out on the fee.
Kilbane placed at least part of the blame for the fee on the state government.
“This comes straight from Columbus — an assault on municipalities,” the council president said.
Rocco noted during the committee meeting that the city expects to lose about $300,000 from Columbus in 2012 from reductions in the state’s local government fund. An additional unknown amount will be lost due to the state’s phase out of the estate tax.