The City of Tallassee is losing nearly $100,000 yearly on trash pickup and Mayor Johnny Hammock said monthly fees would have to increase to break even.
“City hall works very hard to find places where we are running at a loss,” Hammock said at the April 9 city council meeting.
The city billed $317,744 to customers for garbage pickup services last year and paid Advanced Disposal $308,952 for those services, leaving a surplus of $8,792. But when operating costs are factored in, the city lost $91,656 last year.
The city paid $20,660 for repairs to limb trucks, $12,371 to fuel the vehicles, $56,617 to pay two CDL drivers to operate the vehicles and $10,800, at a minimum, for employee benefits for the two drivers.
Hammock said that estimate is low and likely more than $100,000.
“We pick up couches, hot water heaters and sofas,” he said. “Half of the houses in Tallassee are rental houses and when people move out they leave a lot of things behind. The landlords will put the stuff out by the road and the limb trucks will pick it up but these limb trucks are not designed to pick up these types of things. They are designed to pick up vegetation, leaves, limbs and those types of things, not hot water heaters and refrigerators, but for some reason we have been doing it for years.”
Tallassee residents currently pay $12 a month for garbage service, including limb service, and Hammock said the rate would have to increase to $16 a month per customer for the city to break even. But increasing the fee might lead to some residents opting to dump their trash illegally.
“Remember the illegal dumping?” Hammock asked. “If we start charging people like that, I am afraid we have that all over the city. We already have illegal dumping happening.”
Hammock asked members of the city council to begin considering the most beneficial options for the city’s budget.
“I don’t know what the solution is,” Hammock said. “That is for you all to discuss. I know we have gone up on a lot of things here over the last couple of years but basically we running the city on a 1990 budget. If you’re going to run a city, you have to run it like a business. I hope everyone will think about how we are going to close this gap.”
Hammock also pointed out what the city stands to gain if it can break even or better yet gain a new revenue stream.
“The money you lose, that could be three police cars a year, two police officers’ salaries,” Hammock said. “You have talked about a swimming pool — $80,000 a year covers a $1 million bond payment. There’s your swimming pool.”