Logansport City Council is considering a budget for next year that would eliminate trash pickup fees, provide more money for demolitions and give city employees a raise.
Several council members said they wanted to replace the city’s contract with Wabash Valley Refuse paid by user fees of $10 a month with a $500,000 budget allocation at a budget hearing Monday.
“I fully support eliminating it,” Councilman Bob Bishop said.
Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin said because a generating plant that will be powered by refuse-derived fuel he is currently negotiating a deal over with Pyrolyzer, LLC would require trash to run, there would be no need for residents to pay for trash pickup.
“Pyrolyzer has assured us a free place to dump our trash,” he said.
Councilwoman Teresa Popejoy expressed concerns over this justification, saying a decision on the matter shouldn’t be made until a deal with Pyrolyzer has been finalized.
“I can’t support this,” she said. “...This is 2014. There’s no way it’s going to be up and running in 2014.”
Bishop said he supports removing the fee for now. Should it become necessary in the future, the council can reinstate it, he said.
“If we have to bring it back, we’ll bring it back, but I don’t see that happening,” he said.
Debate also circulated about a proposed 5 percent salary increase for city employees, up from last year’s 2 percent.
“We also have to keep in mind private service,” Bishop said, commenting on how the economy hasn’t been improving enough for local businesses to avoid cutting jobs and instituting pay cuts. He said he was ultimately in favor of the raise, however.
Franklin said the raise is necessary to keep municipal employees in the city, adding that several have left over the last half decade for higher-paying jobs.
He asked council members to at least consider a 4 percent raise.
“I think that’s beyond reasonable on all sides,” he said.
City officials say they hope to avoid this year’s dilemma of running short of funds for demolitions with increases in next year’s budget.
A proposal of $100,000 has been included in the city’s board of public works and safety budget for scheduled demolitions, up $80,000 from last year. Furthermore, $60,000 has been planned for the city’s unsafe building structures fund, doubling the amount allocated for 2013.
The council will have a public hearing on the budget at 5 p.m. Sept. 3, and vote on its adoption at the next monthly meeting at 5 p.m. Oct. 7 in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of the city building, 601 E. Broadway.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.