City looks to resolve trash issue
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - For the past couple months, the Menominee Finance Committee has been pouring through the proposed budget for the next fiscal year line-by-line. When the committee meets at 5 p.m. Monday, City Manager Michael Cramer is expected to make final changes on the draft then submit a recommended budget by May 1. The committee will then present it to the council for approval.
One big obstacle still in the way is how the city will fund its garbage collection. Currently residents and businesses are charged $9.50 per month, billed quarterly, with an additional one mill tax levy. The amount being charged has been in excess of what the actual cost is to the city, and therefore has created a surplus of $142,162. Council members have been split over how to best charge for the service and deal with the overage.
"That will be the primary discussion for Monday night," said Cramer. "I think it'll be an important meeting. Hopefully they'll come to a conclusion and that'll set the target for the solid waste program for the next at least year and a half left in the contract."
Cramer has presented at least a half dozen options for paying for the service, from going back to the original three mills and eliminating the monthly fees to having no millage and 100 percent user fees.
He's recommending a sort of hybrid of the current structure, where the city leaves the existing one mill in place and reduces the user fee to $7.60 per month. In order to fully fund the current service level the city could use the surplus funds to support the program. According to Cramer, this plan would reduce the surplus funds by just over $70,000 a year and would save the users of the service $1.90 per month.
In addition to trash pick up by Waste Management, local residents also enjoy other solid waste services, including recycling, electronic waste disposal, and yard and bulk waste, which is handled during the spring clean up. Those services cost taxpayers $634,510 a year.
"I really don't see this as changing the services that the city funds; it's more how we handle the current rate structure and what we do with the additional fund balance that's there," explained Cramer.
Cramer is confident his recommended solution will allow the city to continue its trash services at the current levels, keep the current millage rate and reduce the user fees but utilizing approximately 50 percent of the surplus funds in fiscal 2013-14.
"The option also allows the city to conservatively approach the final six months of the existing Waste Management contract by retaining 50 percent of the existing fund balance to help offset costs at the end of the contract," he said.