By Terry L. Jones
June 23, 2012
PORT ALLEN — Mayor Roger Bergeron gave the City Council two options Wednesday night that he said could help solve the city’s long-standing budget shortfalls in funding trash pick-up service for residents.
Bergeron asked the council to consider raising the fee customers are charged for trash collection as a way to recoup the approximately $300,000 in revenue the city would lose during the life of its remaining five-year garbage collection contract.
City officials attributed a portion of the loss to the $2.49 per month subsidy it absorbs for curbside recycling as a means of reducing residents’ fees.
“While I believe, as much as possible, government should be run like a business, government is not in the business to make a profit,” Bergeron told the council. “Breaking even is the goal.”
Residents are currently charged $17 a month for trash collection.
Bergeron said it actually costs the city $19.49 monthly, counting the $2.49 recycling subsidy, to provide the service.
The mayor offered the option of implementing an annual increase of 63 cents per year per customer for the next four years as one way to address the issue.
Bergeron said doing so would generate $151,700 in additional revenue by the fourth year of the contract, cutting the city’s projected loss in half.
The option would boost the rate citizens pay for trash collection to $19.52 per month by 2016, he said.
“We’ll be caught up,” Bergeron told the council, “finally collecting what we’re paying.”
Bergeron’s second option would be to implement the increase in $1 increments per customer annually for the next four years.
The mayor said that would generate another $240,000 in revenue and wipe out about 80 percent of the city’s expected loss.
Customers would be paying $21 a month for trash service by the end of the fourth year, he said.
Councilman Ralph Bergeron said that although he believes the $1 monthly increase would be what the city needs, the 63-cent option would sound better to citizens.
However, Councilman R.J. Loupe countered that both proposals are “peanuts” in the grand scheme of things.
“We have no choice,” Loupe said. “Either we sit here and drown or we make it up.”
Although the shortfall is included in the city’s proposed budget for 2012-13, Bergeron said, the rate increases are not.
But the mayor added the council would need to make a decision one way or the other before August for either plan to work as intended.
“I’m looking for some guidance,” Bergeron told the council.
“I’m open to any suggestions you may have.”