Landrum debates who will pay garbage rate increases

Published 2:11 pm Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sanitation rates in Landrum will  increase next year, but who will bear those increased costs is still in question.
Landrum City Council discussed Tuesday, Feb. 8 renewing the city’s contract with GDS sanitation haulers. Although council members have not officially approved the new contract, they agreed to continue with GDS, with the new contract beginning July 1.
The increase from GDS will be $1 per month for residential customers and approximately 50 cents per month for commercial roll-out customers.
Residential customers currently pay $8 per month for garbage service, and the charge to the city is currently $6.49 per residential customer. Some council members expressed concern over the city making money. The increased contract will cost the city $7.45, according to estimates provided this week.
But city council has previously discussed that the income from sanitation fees is minimal. Because the commercial garbage rates do not cover all expenses for that service, the surplus from residential customers is used to cover those deficits.
City council members Jan Horton, Jon Matheis and Joyce Whiteside said they do not want to charge residential customers another $1 per month.
“I have a problem with us making money off this anyway,” Horton said.
But councilman Billy Inman said the revenue has got to come from somewhere.
“What are we going to do if we don’t have that money?” Inman asked. “We’re going to have to go up on taxes. I see where you’re coming from, but it is a user fee.”
Matheis said the residents have been subsidizing commercial customers and suggested making those commercial customers pay enough to cover expenses.
“What the residents have been doing is compensating for commercial,” said Matheis. “Why should the people that have businesses live off the backs of the people that live here?”
City administrator Steve Wolochowicz said the revenue made on the sanitation service is used to pay for other sanitation type services, including debris collection, which is done at no cost to residents.
“The one way we can justify doing debris pick-up for free is because we make a little extra on sanitation,” Wolochowicz said. “It’s not spent on frivolous things.”
Council agreed for Wolochowicz to provide data on the increases and will discuss what to charge customers or how to absorb the increases next month.