City sets public forum on garbage fees

Royston King

The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) will host a public consultation next Thursday on the proposed implementation of a residential charge for garbage disposal, Town Clerk Royston King announced yesterday.

King told a press conference at City Hall that the M&CC has been receiving a lot of feedback on the proposal from individuals and groups and, as a result, decided to hold a public consultation next Thursday at 5 pm in the City Hall compound, where all are invited.  At Monday’s statutory meeting of the city council, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had instructed that a public consultation be held.

“The idea is to give citizens an opportunity to share their views and ideas on this proposed fee. Over the next three weeks, we will have similar meetings across the city,” King said.

On Monday, Chase-Green said that before the planned February 1, 2017 implementation of the fee, she would like to see one public consultation where all stakeholders are invited. “Invite everybody, all the people that want to come and explain why you doing it and all the consideration surrounding it,” she said to King.

Last Friday, King announced that the M&CC would be moving to charge residents a per barrel fee for garbage collection from the start of next month. King stressed that the sums garnered would be used to assist the cash-strapped municipality in offsetting the high cost of the service. A fee of $200 per barrel has been mentioned.

However, yesterday he pointed out that he had only said that the proposal was discussed and accepted by the council but they were still at the stage of working out the modalities on the best way to collect the fee from property owners and that it has not been decided on.

“Solid waste management is an extremely expensive service. The council must engage its collective faculties to contemplate practical ways of providing this and other vital municipal services,” King noted.

From September 1st last year, city businesses were classified into three categories, small, medium and large and billed $5,000, $8,000 and $12,000 per month, respectively, for garbage disposal. At that time, King had justified the need for the introduction of the fees by stating that the council must spend in excess of $50 million per month to dispose of the city’s waste. There was no mention of a fee for residents then.

King had explained that the collection and disposal of solid waste currently costs council approximately $600 per barrel and, therefore, once the fee is implemented, the council will in reality be subsidising the cost at $400 per barrel.

Though disposal of waste is one of the legal mandates of the council, King explained that the current sums attached to rates and taxes—council’s main revenue source—are not enough to meet its expenditure and therefore the new fee is one of several measures which will help mitigate costs.

The city has repeatedly faced challenges with the collection and disposal of garbage. Several areas of the city had actually been without the service for a number of days in January until two Fridays ago, when Cevons Waste Management and Puran Brothers Disposal Inc, resumed their collection services for the M&CC. The contractors had stopped working on January 1st, 2018 after a temporary arrangement with the Central Government came to an end.

King also said yesterday that within the first quarter of the year, the M&CC is hoping to regularise and register all waste haulers who operate in the city.