By ERIC X. VICCARO
The Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen had three talking points during a Thursday, Oct. 22, work session.
City leaders discussed proposed changes to water/sewer rates, possibly vacating a portion of Glenda Street and whether or not the city wants to have a single contractor for trash pick-up.
In a memorandum to the board of aldermen, Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch recommended a two percent increase in water/sewer rates.
This is all part of a proposed five-year plan to increase rates by two percent each year.
“That would assist us in budgeting for the department knowing what that increase will be,” Welch said.
During discussions, Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan urged not to have any increase this year.
“It could strain people’s finances,” Donovan said, relating increased rates in light of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. “It’s a different kind of year.”
However, most of the remaining aldermen thought that a two percent increase this year would “not be out of line.”
Most likely, consumers can expect a two-percent increase for water and sewer, Welch told the Herald after the meeting.
However, due to state statutes, there must be a public hearing on the matter — posted 30 days in advance of a regular meeting.
That hearing will likely take place in December, but it’s the aim of the city to have the increase in place by later that month.
Currently, the minimum water rate is $6.81 per cubic feet, this is a per consumer per month charge. The minimum sewer rate is $8.16.
A two-percent increase would bump the minimum water charge to $6.95 and sewer to $8.32.
The increases also were asked for in light of both the consumer price and producer price indices — which are strong numerical indicators for utility rates.
The city will be spending, on average, $350,000 per year for the next several years as part of both water and sewer system improvements.
Once again, the board of alderman discussed possibly having a dedicated franchisee for trash collection and hauling.
Previous boards have discussed this topic as far back as 2010 under former city administrator Martin Toma.
Toma told Welch in a conversation the matter stopped moving forward because of a general city election the following April and a previous trash hauler went out of business.
There are currently three main providers of trash service, as well as a small, independent contractor. The main providers are Republic Services, Waste Management and Freedom Waste.
The city had a six-part poll on Survey Monkey, and findings from 51 respondents were abundantly clear, at least according to Welch.
“If you can get us a better rate, we’ll take it,” Welch said, “but, don’t tell me what company to choose from.”
Welch said discussions will return on this matter in another work session once the calendar flips to 2021.
The biggest concern many of the alderman shared was the “wear and tear” on city streets due to having so many different trash collection agencies.
Ward 4 Alderman Joe Prince said he was staunchly against having just one provider, based on his experience living in other communities in the region.
“I think with no competition, the level of service decreases,” he said.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Susie Johnson said there must be other ways to address complaints from city residents regarding trash collection. Ward 4 Alderwoman Ashley Armbruster said “customer service” would be her biggest concern.
Should aldermen decide to proceed on a franchise, the city’s solid waste code would need updating, go out for bid on trash hauling and draft a possible contract. This process could take up to 24-27 months, Welch said.
Welch has previous experience dealing with trash hauling. When he was administrator in the western Missouri city of Harrisonville, that community switched from one vendor to another.
He said one “con” to a single provider is that all one- and two-family residences would have to be a part of it to make collection feasible for a trash provider.
After deliberations during the work session, the city will keep a certain parcel of property on Glenda Street — rather than vacating it.
The area in question covers 40×100-feet, with Angela Rehm the current property owner.
Welch said the city polled property owners in the area, with four respondents asking the city to vacate the land area, and four to keep it.
“We got some worthy background stories, and had some good conversations (on the matter),” Welch said.