GLADSTONE - The Gladstone City Commission has decided to change the way fees are charged for garbage and recycling pickup. In the past, the fees were based on a millage rates. The new plan will be a flat rate usage fee and additional charges based on usage. The decision was made at a commission meeting Friday.
"What we're proposing to do is charge a customer charge, $4 per month to everybody," said City Manager Darla Falcon. "That $4 per month city-wide would cover the departments of the compost site, city cleanup, and some administrative costs."
Citizens who leave in the winter months will still be responsible for paying the $4 customer charge. "I think the best way to put it is this is an annual charge that as a courtesy we break it up and add it to the bills monthly," said Commissioner Matt Gay.
Added to the $4 customer charge, residents will be charged $11 a month for refuse pick up on one garbage cart and one recycling cart. Homeowners outside the city limits who use the city services for refuse pick up will continue to be charged $18 for pickup.
"If we have a commercial business that we don't pick up, they have a dumpster, they don't pay that $11," said Falcon. "It's only where we pick the garbage up."
Extra recycling carts will have an extra $3 per month fee and extra garbage carts will have an extra $10 per month fee. If only recyclables are being picked up the charge will only be $6 a month instead of the $11 refuse pick up fee for city residents.
"Trash should be treated the same as your water, electric, and sewer. The more you use it the more you pay," said Barry Lund, Gladstone Public Works superintendent.
The new rates will take effect beginning next month and will replace the millage that has previously been used. "We are proposing to put this into effect immediately on June 1, 2012, and then this July not levy the 1.8 mills on the tax bill," said Falcon. Those residents who have not received a tax bill after April 1 will have the new rates applied retroactively.
"What I see here is reducing the taxes and going to a straight user fee to support a solid waste fund," said Commissioner Joe Maki. "If that's the comparison that the city resident would look at compared to living outside the city I think it's a very favorable rate in return for some reduction in taxes."
The new plan will also equalize the cost for residents who have paid rates based on their property value in the past. "From a philosophical standpoint I think it's fair," said Gay. "Because someone has a $300,000 house they pay a higher amount for the same services the someone with a $50,000 house - that's not fair."
The city compost site receives a large amount of use from people who are non-residents. "It might be helpful to have a conversation with the townships just to make it legal," said Gay. "They might bite." A fee would be charged for use of the facility.
In other business, the commission explained issues at the fish cleaning station over walleye opener. While trying to upgrade the station a malfunction caused water to spray from the station. In order to address the issue the water had to be turned off. "We were trying to actually accommodate the opening day of walleye season." Unfortunately, it didn't work to our advantage," said Mayor Darin Hunter.