FLORENCE — The City Council is expected to vote today to increase residential and commercial garbage rates for the first time in 11 years.
The council’s Finance Committee last week recommended the rate increase at the request of Mayor Mickey Haddock, who said the deficit growing in the Solid Waste Fund is unsustainable.
If adopted, the residential rate would go from $12 a month to $16, effective in early April. Commercial rates would go up 45 percent, with monthly rates determined by the type of service used by each business. The council increased commercial rates by 30 percent a year ago because they were lower than the regional average.
Dan Barger, city treasurer and General Fund accountant, has been advising the council for three years to increase the rates, but an impasse between council members and the former mayor about what to do with the sanitary landfill left the matter hanging.
The council eventually voted to close the landfill and hire a contractor to haul away municipal solid waste.
Haddock said the rate increases are designed to sustain garbage collection services for the next five years. He said the rates won’t be a revenue maker for the city.
Also on today’s agenda is a resolution addressed to Gov. Robert Bentley asking his support for approval of a new hospital in Florence. RegionalCare Hospital Partners, which bought the publicly owned Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital two years ago, is asking the state Certificate of Needs board to approve its planned construction of a 300-bed hospital. The request is opposed by Helen Keller Hospital, which is publicly owned.
A two-week hearing on the matter was held in Florence recently, with the judge who oversaw the proceedings expected to make a recommendation to the CON board. Officials hope a decision on RegionalCare’s request is made in June.
The council meets today at 9 a.m. for its work session and at 10 a.m. for its regular meeting. The meeting hours have been changed from the normal times to allow high school students to participate in a students in government event, which pairs students with city department heads to learn more about how local government works.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.