Opp leaders: Should we be in garbage business?

Published 1:41 am Thursday, August 22, 2013

Public opinion is sought on whether or not the City of Opp should get out of the “garbage business.”

Mayor John Bartholomew made the announcement at Monday’s council meeting before opening the floor up for discussion on proposals to contract the gar-bage service for the city’s 2,454 residents.

Bartholomew said under the lowest bidder’s proposal, the city’s current $12 per month fee and billing and payment procedures would not change.

“In fact, it would mean that the city could generate $106,000 a year in revenue, where what we’re doing now is not making us any money,” Bartholomew said.

It would also allow for a recycling program to be implemented, he said.

Figures provided show that since the city resumed garbage services in 2008, the program has operated at a loss of $654,000 through equipment purchases, personnel and maintenance costs and the declining number of customers.

Once the city’s garbage is collected it is transported to the Coffee County landfill, and in 2012, the city paid $50,516 in fees to dispose of that household garbage.

Bartholomew said future expenses include an estimated $209,000 for a new truck and substantial maintenance costs to garbage cans.

“We’re losing $150,000 a year collecting garbage,” he said. “We want to make the best decision for the public, and I think we should ask them what their wishes are.”

Two councilmen spoke out against the move – Bobby Ray Owens and T.D. Morgan.

“I see no pint in getting out of the garbage business,” Owens said. “If someone else can make money at it, I don’t know why the City of Opp can’t make money at it.”

Bartholomew said he based his decision on “the numbers.”

“But the decision is up to the public,” he said. “I will say that our citizens would be able to recycle plastic and paper in bins situated at three locations in city. When analyzing and evaluating the city services, you must look at each program and understand how it fits into the city’s budget.

“How we spend our money indicates our priorities and desires,” he said. “Some programs like utilities and garbage service generates their own revenue, while others like the library and the street department don’t have the mechanisms to produce revenue.

“It’s important to maximize efficient use of funds and produce services as much as possible,” he said. “We must be good stewards and be aware and diligent about the overall changes to the budget.”

Opp residents are urged to contact their councilperson with their thoughts on the change.

In other business, the council appointed Udo Christ. At its last meeting, Morgan was appointed to the board; however, state law prohibits a sitting councilperson from serving on the board.