PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission did not come to a decision on the city’s proposed garbage collection ordinance during their meeting Tuesday evening, holding their second official reading and fifth discussion overall on the topic.
Commissioner John Martin began the discussion by referencing rough financial numbers for the Health and Sanitation Department.
Martin said that there was approximately $1.1 million in the fund balance for the department and that the department has approximately $2.8 million planned for expenditures for the department. With the proposed rate increases, including the $1 monthly increase for residential customers, Martin said that there would be approximately $500,000 generated in additional funds for the department after the fourth year of implementing the increases.
“Sounds like to me that after this is paid for, the trash department will have a huge surplus of money,” Martin said.
Finance Director Cynthia Holtzapple said that the department is planning on borrowing money to pay for their new building, so the department needs to show lenders that they have a revenue stream that can sustain that borrowing toward the building in addition to paying for other planned capital and labor costs. Holtzapple added that the department’s fund is an enterprise fund, so it needs to maintain a revenue stream and a fund balance.
“You can’t deplete an enterprise fund,” Holtzapple said.
Other expenditures are expected to go toward the costs of trash carts for customers and possibly future purchases of new trucks.
Martin also questioned current rates for commercial customers, referencing an unnamed business in the city and suggesting that they were not paying enough for the amount of trash that they generate.
“We try to average it out for what they typically have out,” Health and Sanitation Director Amy Welker said.
Welker went on to say later that if the proposed ordinance is put into place, “We will have a much better way of monitoring commercial accounts.”
Mayor Kazy Hinds asked for a clarification point about which set of rates Martin was discussing, the current or proposed rates.
“I asked about present day, because if they’re not going to do this correctly present day, what makes you think they’re going to do it correctly in here?” Martin said.
Hinds referenced the proposed ordinance, saying it appeared as if it would take care of those issues that Martin referenced.
“The only way that any of this is addressed is if we go by the ordinance that we have and charge accordingly and not arbitrarily charge somebody an arbitrary number because that’s what we want to charge them,” Martin said.
Later on, Commissioner Bill Vogt asked, “What I want to know is who is going to be the can police?” Welker said that customers would be charged for the number of carts that the city provides them.
Vogt later went on to ask a number of questions about the department’s semi-automated trash collection system and the possibility of the city implementing a fully automated trash collection service.
Hinds spoke in favor of the automated system to protect the workers from getting injured. Hinds was also in favor of the trash carts, as they would be heavier and less likely to get blown around in strong winds.
Martin questioned how comfortable the rest of the commission was with the ordinance. Hinds and Commissioner Kris Lee both indicated they were comfortable with it. Commissioner Dave Short and Vogt did not speak either way.
“The only issue I have is the four times that we’re going to raise the rates and we don’t know how much the building is going to cost … so we’re arbitrarily raising rates when we don’t know what it’s going to actually cost us,” Martin said.
Lee said that there was an estimate available for the department’s new building project, but Martin questioned the estimate.
Welker said that they have to have these increases in place in order to show lenders that they are fiscally responsible with their fund balance and that they are raising their revenue to support those projects.
The commission did not vote on the proposed ordinance Tuesday evening, but they are expected to vote on it during their next meeting on Feb. 20 if they choose to hold a third reading.
In other news, the commission approved purchases for the city’s 2018 street and alley maintenance program. The commission approved the purchase order to Valley Asphalt Corp. as the city’s primary supplier of hot mix asphalt and to Barrett Paving Materials, Inc. as the secondary supplier at a budgeted amount of $332,280.
The commission also approved a purchase order to Piqua Materials, Inc. as the city’s supplier of stone and Valley Asphalt Corp. as the supplier of cold patch at a budgeted amount of $30,000.
The commission also approved a purchase for power load cots and loading kits for the Piqua Fire Department. The purchase order will go to Stryker Sales Corporation, utilizing a $40,000 grant from the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation and an approximate $43,041 match from the city.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336