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Trash collection is focus of city budget hearing

May 04, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Trash will pile up on Hagerstown streets if trash collection is cut from twice to once per week as is proposed, said four citizens who spoke at a Tuesday public hearing on the proposed city budget.

Trash collection concerns dominated the hearing and a City Council work session held just before the hearing.

Almost 20 residents joined city department heads and several employees for a hearing on the $64.8 million proposed budget for the 2000 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

City resident Vicki Bodnar previously lived in a county where there was once-a-week trash pickup and "it was not a livable situation."

"People would set their trash out all week long," she said.

Dave Rebele said he would pay a higher trash collection fee if it meant the city would keep twice-a-week trash collection.

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"It's important to have clean streets," Rebele said.

However, a majority of council members seem to favor the reduction in service, which when combined with a proposal to bring city trash to a landfill in Upton, Pa., would save the city about $186,000 next year, according to budget projections.

Council members Alfred W. Boyer and William M. Breichner said they favored a plan suggested by Councilman Lewis C. Metzner to make trash collection a self-sufficient service.

Changing the trash collection service so it is entirely supported with user fees, and switching to once-a-week trash pickup, could result in raising the trash collection fee by $18 a year, and a decrease in the property tax of about 1.5 cents, City Finance Director Al Martin told council members.

The current proposed budget calls for increasing the trash collection fee by $10 a year and leaving the property tax rate at $1.74 per $100 of assessed value.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said city staff will prepare an analysis of making trash collection a self-sufficient service.

Breichner and Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein asked that Zimmerman contact Washington County officials to see if they will consider negotiating a lower disposal rate, which would make the county landfill competitive with the Pennsylvania landfill.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure asked for an analysis of a twice-a-week trash pickup schedule.

Also during the public hearing, Norma Parks, the market master at the City Farmers Market, asked that council members reconsider cutting her position.

Parks, a part-time employee, is the only city employee who would lose her job as a result of proposed budget cuts.

She said having one person oversee the Farmers Market is better for the market than having several people take over her responsibilities.

Three other residents who spoke during the hearing also asked that council members retain Parks.

Council members are expected to vote to introduce the proposed budget on May 11 and cast a final vote on adopting a budget on May 25.

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