Garbage fee in South Fayette still undecided

Published Jan 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm (Updated Jan 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm)

By Deana Carpenter

For The Almanac

A decision on instituting a proposed garbage fee in South Fayette Township is still up in the air.

The item was on the agenda for discussion at the commissioners’ Jan. 9 workshop meeting, but only the manager discussed it. In December, commissioners approved the township’s $8.5 million general fund budget, but did not take any action on the garbage fee or capital budget. Also in December, the board tabled action on setting the township’s real estate taxation millage rate.

“It’s the prerogative of the board,” said Township Manager Ryan Eggleston about whether to implement the garbage fee for 2013. “The only obligation is the paving of Hickory Heights,” Eggleston said. He added that if the board wants to delay the fee this year, he still recommends paving Hickory Heights. Eggleston said if the fee were not implemented, the township would have to postpone purchasing a new truck for the public works department as well as a new police car.

The township would have to look into using money from its capital reserve fund to pave Hickory Heights Drive. He said money from the capital reserve could also be used for some of the smaller capital improvement items like a mower.

In December, Eggleston said the $8 per month garbage fee would have generated more than $578,000 for the township’s capital budget – the bulk of which would be used for paving and public works equipment. Currently garbage and recycling pick-up is included in residents’ taxes.

Eggleston told commissioners they should keep the garbage fee “on the radar” even they decide not to do it for 2013. He added that he knows there are other, smaller townships that commit $600,000 to $700,000 per year for paving.

“One thing to keep in mind is that 99 percent of municipalities bill garbage as a separate item,” Eggleston said. “Garbage is a utility function,” like sewer or water service, he added. Eggleston said that while South Fayette’s millage rate has remained the same for years, the cost of garbage has gone up every year. He said the township will be paying $50,000 more this year than last year to its garbage hauler, Waste Management.

The board also discussed setting the township’s 2013 millage rate. Township Solicitor Jonathan Kamin said he has looked at the new assessment numbers and the information provided from Allegheny County is wrong. He recommended setting the township’s millage rate at 3.37 mills. Kamin said the 3.37 rate is “close to the penny to be revenue neutral.”

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