WILLIAMSON – At a special Williamson City Council meeting held Thursday evening, Mayor Robert Carlton recommended raising garbage rates by $6 per month.
After a motion and a second the council first voted to approve the sanitation hike by a 3-1 vote, with Councilwoman Sherri Hairston-Brown casting the only no vote.
However, after further discussion, Councilwoman Judy Hamrick asked to rescind her motion to second the initial motion by Councilman York Smith until the city could publish figures and further discuss the proposal.
“We need to get a handle on our finances,” Hamrick said. She also stated that the council needed to get the statistics and figures so it could better make a decision on the rate hike. “We need the projected totals,” Hamrick stressed.
Councilman Matt Newsome thought that a $3 raise in the garbage rates might be better than the $6 rate per month. Currently residents and business establishments are billed quarterly, which would mean an increase of $18 per quarter.
The rate hike was not passed, but was tabled until this week’s regularly scheduled meeting where the matter will be deliberated again.
York Smith made a motion for the city to start billing once a month instead of quarterly. Smith said he thinks it would be easier for residents to pay once a month, rather than every three months.
“It is hard for people to make ends meet,” Smith said. “I think billing them once a month would be better.”
That motion passed and City Clerk Larry Brown said that with the new billing software, that changing the billing should go smoothly.
Mike Baisden, a local citizen asked to be recognized and to speak to the council. He suggested that the city look into letting citizens pay their garbage bills via credit card. Carlton and councilman Newsome said that it was being considered and that the idea will likely be implemented in the near future.
Brown also noted that the city bills $85,899, however the city’s monthly fees total $127,000 for sanitation services. This includes the $32,500 sanitation contract with Veolia, the $10,500 landfill contract with Pike County, Ky., maintenance on trucks, and other expenditures that keep the garbage picked up each week.
“We have to grasp the fact we don’t have enough money and need to increase revenue,” Mayor Carlton said.
Carlton also brought up the new $50 business license for Williamson, which increases from $5 per year. He said that it was brought to his attention that vendors that participate in various festivals and events in the city currently pay $15 per year. After discussion on this matter the $15 fee will remain the same for non-profit groups setting up at events like the King Coal Festival. If vendors participate in more than one event, they will not pay more than $50 per year.
The new mayor also brought up about the 25 percent across the board hike in the B & O taxes. That matter was tabled until the next regular council meeting which will be Thursday, June 9 at 6 p.m.
The city council then went into executive session for about 40 minutes for personnel matters. When they came out Carlton told those in attendance that no decisions were made and that City Attorney Josh Ferrell would be looking at some matters and that the council “would revisit” the personnel issues at its next meeting on Thursday.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)