City may exit garbage business

Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]
In this file photo, a Maysville garbage truck dumps trash at the Maysville-Mason County Landfill. -

Facing a deficit of more than $1 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Maysville City Commissioners are looking for ways to save money.

Handing over garbage collection services to the county or a private contractor was among the cost-cutting measures discussed Thursday during a special commission meeting. Another was cutting proposed pay increases from 3 percent to 1.5 percent, for the first half of the fiscal year and reexamining the city’s financial position before adding the additional 1.5 percent in January.

Although there is a $10 per month residential garbage collection fee, the service still operates in the red by $100,000-$150,000 each year, according to City Manager Matt Wallingford.

Commissioners debated the costs of the current service which requires employees to physically empty garbage containers into the packer truck versus automated service which would require residents to place receptacles at the curb where an automated arm would pick up and empty the garbage container into a packer truck.

If the city sticks with the conventional service, a new garbage packer truck is on the list of must-haves since a current truck used to run the route is in poor condition and could quit operating at any time, Public Works Director Mike Barbee said. That would come at a cost of $165,000-$175,000, Wallingford said.

With the automated service, the equipment would be purchased through a plan that would not impact this year’s budget, Comptroller Penny Francis said. Moving to the automated system would also mean a loss of about four employees, Wallingford said, cutting about $200,000 in salaries and benefits.

“It’s balancing act,” Wallingford said.

Commissioner Victor McKay said working with the county through an inter-local agreement to have it operate the garbage service “is something we should look into.”

Barbee said shutting down the service would mean a loss of six employees, although their experience operating the route would make them ideal hires for the county should it take over the service, Mayor David Cartmell said. Cartmell also argued in favor of retaining the garbage service in it current form and buying a new packer truck from a company in Cynthiana.

Commissioners agreed to have the landfill committee, which includes City Commissioner Kelly Ashley and County Commissioner Phil Day, discuss the issue and to also explore contracting the service to a private company if the county shows no interest. The entire process could take six-nine months to complete, officials said.

In the meantime, the city will continue to operate the service and address the issue through budget amendments when a final decision is make.

Other options to bring the budget in line discussed during the meeting included:

— Reducing the number of new ambulances purchased from two to one. Fire Chief Kevin Doyle said with the two ambulances, which EMS will need anyway, the service can take on transfer of patients which it does not currently provide. That service would be a money-making addition for the city, he said.

— Increasing employees share of health insurance costs. Presently employees pay 11 percent with the remainder covered by the city.

— Reduce the contribution to the BTADD revolving loan fund to $25,000.

— Increasing revenue through a hike to payroll tax and increase garage collection fees.

Wallingford said the position the city finds itself in is not the fault of anyone on commission or in city administration. Instead, he said, state officials, past and present, are to blame.

The first reading of the budget will be held during a special meeting set for June 7 at 5:15 p.m., at city hall.

In this file photo, a Maysville garbage truck dumps trash at the Maysville-Mason County Landfill. this file photo, a Maysville garbage truck dumps trash at the Maysville-Mason County Landfill.

Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]