City trash pickup won't change under plan

May 11, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hagerstown's trash collection fee will increase by $32 next year, the property tax rate will decrease by a penny, and city residents will continue to have their trash picked up twice a week, under a plan endorsed by a majority of City Council members Tuesday.

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The proposal will be included in the $64.8 million budget for the 2000 fiscal year, expected to be approved by the council on May 25. The 2000 fiscal year begins July 1.

An earlier budget proposal recommended increasing the trash collection fee by $10 a year, cutting trash pickup from twice to once a week and leaving the property tax rate at $1.74 per $100 of assessed property value.

The mixed paper recycling program, which was slated to be eliminated in the proposed budget, would be continued under the plan endorsed Tuesday.


Under that plan, trash collection will become a self-supporting service. In the current fiscal year, the city spends about $410,000 to subsidize trash collection, according to budget estimates.

The plan is a version of a proposal made by Councilman Lewis C. Metzner during last week's council meeting.

At that time, Metzner had recommended increasing the fee so the service could be self-supporting and possibly cutting the tax rate. However, it was still undecided whether the number of trash collection days would be reduced.

On Tuesday, council members reviewed a cost analysis of three alternatives for trash collection, each of which included making that service self-supporting.

Those options included continuing the current level of service and continuing disposing of the trash at the Washington County landfill; continuing the level of service and hauling the trash to a landfill in Upton, Pa., and switching to once-a-week trash pickup and disposing of it in Pennsylvania.

According to the analysis, the first two options would cost about the same, and the third option was about $150,000 less expensive.

The first option, continuing twice-a-week trash collection and make the service self-supporting by raising the fee and lowering the tax rate, was endorsed by Metzner, Councilman William M. Breichner, Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein and Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II. The mayor would vote on the budget only to break a tie.

Under the endorsed plan:

-- The trash collection fee, which is currently $12.50 every three months, will increase to $20.50 every three months.

-- The property tax rate would be lowered to $1.73 per $100 of assessed property value. For average homeowners with property assessed at $100,000, this change would cut about $4 from their tax bill, according to City Finance Director Al Martin.

-- The city will continue sending their trash to the Washington County landfill and attempt to negotiate a lower disposal rate.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said he wanted to keep having trash picked up twice a week because "those people are going to kill us if we go to once a week."

McClure wanted to leave the tax rate unchanged.

McClure was the lone vote Tuesday against introducing a law to lower the tax rate a penny. A final vote on the tax rate is expected on May 25.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer voted in favor of lowering the tax rate.

During the discussion of trash service, Boyer said he wanted to switch to once-a-week trash collection because that would encourage more recycling.

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