This article first appeared in the Sept. 9 issue of the Community Voice. To order your subscription, call the office at 270-384-9454.
The Columbia City Council will consider an ordinance to increase garbage rates from $15 to $18 after hearing a report of monthly losses.
Council member Linda Waggener gave a report from a sanitation meeting and said rates are too low. She said the department director believes rates should be in line with the county (the county does not provide garbage pickup service but the service is provided countywide by private haulers).
Robert Flowers followed up saying the garbage department lost $20,000 in January and agreed the city is not charging enough.
Following the meeting, City Clerk Rhonda Loy said the city lost $10,000 last month but has improved its revenue by around $12,000 a month after assessing usage from commercial customers and adjusting billing based on usage.
In addition, Loy said, the city now employs three additional people in the department because they are no longer able to use jail inmates on the trucks.
Mayor Pam Hoots also made a recommendation that the city consider developing its own transfer station on property owned by the city on Hwy. 80, east of town. Hoots said they have spoken with environmental officials and are also getting a projected cost. The council voted to move forward with the project.
Tax Rate Proposed
The council gave first reading to setting the tax rate at .217 cents per $100. The proposed rate is the compensating rate and is reduced from last year’s rate of .221. The rate was .225 in 2019 and .227 in 2018. In 2017, the rate was .23.
The council held a brief public hearing due to applying for a $33,900 grant from USDA Rural Development. The city will contribute $11,300 to the project to purchase computers for the police department. Chief Jr. Murphy said the funds would equip seven or eight vehicles.
Council member Robert Flowers questioned if the city’s portion is budgeted and was told it is not and the budget would need to be amended if the project is approved.
“I don’t know how we approve these things until we have it in the budget,” Flowers said.
The council approved a bid from Gaddie Shamrock for $41,841 for road paving, which set the price at $84 a ton.
Hoots recommended Leon Lewis and Joe Willis to the city’s committee overseeing the use of ARPA funds.
Hoots told the council that they now have a draft agreement with Lindsey Wilson College for use of a track that adjoins the city park on Fairground Street and the agreement is expected to be for 10 years.
Hoots asked if the council wanted to pay $5,000 to $8,000 to paint “Columbia” on a water tank at the industrial park near Hwy. 55 south. Flowers again questioned using unbudgeted funds and remarked the city will need to raise taxes again if they continue to keep spending.
The proposal was tabled for council members to consider the cost and visibility of the tank.
The meeting ended with some council members recognizing that it would be Loy’s last regular monthly meeting as city clerk. Loy is retiring at the end of the month. The council then approved the appointment of Woody Sharpe as the next city clerk.
Flowers, Waggener, Sharon Payne, Mark Harris and Dr. Ronald Rogers were present for the meeting. Craig Dean was absent.
By Sharon Burton