The Tallassee City Council voted May 28 to increase the monthly garbage pickup fee $5 after a cost analysis showed the city losing nearly $100,000 yearly on the service. The cost of the service will go from $12 a month to $17 a month.
The vote was 6-1 with councilmember David Stough disapproving.
Mayor Johnny Hammock said the increase would allow the city to break even on garbage pickup.
The city billed $317,744 to customers for garbage pickup last year and paid Advanced Disposal $308,952, leaving a surplus of $8,792. After operating costs, the city lost $91,656.
The city is six years into a 12-year contract with Advanced Disposal, which recently changed hands.
It was determined much of the revenue loss is due to repairs on equipment needed to provide the service. According to Hammock, 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.
"We pick up couches, water heaters and sofas," Hammock 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 water heaters and refrigerators, but for some reason we have been doing it for years."
Hammock conceded earlier increasing the pickup fee might lead to some residents dumping 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."
But 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 we are losing, that could be three police cars a year, two police officers' salaries," Hammock said. "We have talked about a swimming pool — $80,000 a year covers a $1 million bond payment. There's your swimming pool."