Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Some Progress Reported on Longstanding Proposed Sewer/Garbage Issues
A financial "confidentiality" agreement with BCCS (Baldwin Co. Sewer Service) has been approved; and the Trash/Recycling Committee could finally make a recommendation on the proposed once weekly garbage service by the end of July--it was reported at the last Council meeting. The agreement is a necessary first step-- to move forward on making a final decision on the proposed sale of the City Sewer system to the private Baldwin County Sewer Co.: one partial solution mentioned long ago for the City's financial problems/debt [BCCS needs the city system's financial data to make a firm offer for the City's system, but must keep the data confidential per the agreement]. Another proposal by BCCS to service homes along HWY181 in Fairhope's jurisdiction (Silverwood, Gaineswood, Key Allegro Subdivisions) still has not been fully addressed either. The once weekly garbage service issue has been on the table since at least last Feb.; but Council liason Ford only recently said most Committee members were in favor, and he claimed they were now still awaiting precise financial numbers from the Public Works Director before making a final recommendation. [Director Fidler has already publicly estimated-- in a study done a couple years ago-- once weekly service would save about $240,000 a year--after some possible additional start up costs for bigger/additional cans for those residents who may need them.] [Some City Council members have expressed frustration at what they call "foot dragging" by the Administration ("communication problems") concerning getting the timely information needed on many issues--and believe a new City Administrator is one possible solution to the chronic problem.] Since the city's (C&D) landfill is almost full, Ms. Fidler has repeatedly warned that residents' garbage/trash fees may need to be increased later this year to cover the increased cost of hauling to county landfills instead; and the same is true for sewer rates-- since the system is operating deeply in the red-- and a new treatment plant will be needed in the not to distant future (Superintendent Dan McCrory). [In addition to the sewer rate hikes already scheduled for this Oct. and 2010] The Mayor and Councilman Ford have both already expressed opposition to the Sewer System sale-- and Ford has opposed the shift to once weekly garbage service, questioning the need to economize in lieu of the city's recently adopted sales tax. Councilman Satankoski has also expressed some doubts about the Sewer System sale and Kingrea has said he currently leans against, but wants to look carefully at the offer and "numbers"-- to make a sound final decision on behalf of citizens. Councilman Kingrea: "They may make us an offer we can't refuse."