Increase in cost could be passed to city residents

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2016

To help it better prepare for putting together the next city budget, Washington’s City Council met with city department heads during its Jan. 25 meeting.

The council learned, overall, the city’s Public Works Department anticipates no major changes to its operations in the upcoming fiscal year, which begin s July 1. However, the cost to operate the city’s recycling program has increased.

“The public-works division’s budget and revenues, expenditures are in line with where they should be — and all the public-works enterprise funds, with the exception of the tipping-fee portion of the solid-waste fund. This is due to an increase in tipping fees for recycling at ECVC (Eastern Carolina Vocational Center),” said Frankie Buck, the city’s public-works director, to the mayor and council. “All major projects and capital expenditures in public works’ general fund … have been completed for the fiscal year.”

The increase in the tipping fees charged by ECVC could result in an increase in the fees city residents and others pay for garbage pickup to offset the cost of the increase in tipping fees the city pays to ECVC. At the beginning of the city’s recycling program, ECVC did not charge tipping fees, Buck said.

“They all of a sudden started charging $28 a ton, Nov. 9, when I got the letter. I got another letter the first of January, and effect Feb. 1. They’re going to $47 a ton for recycling. We’re paying $47 and some change a ton for garbage, so what’s the incentive to recycle?” Buck said. “But we’re going to have to maintain to our public they need to continue to recycle. It’s going to cost the sanitation division a lot of money compared to what it has been.”

Mercer said that means the city is going to have to look at increasing its garbage-collection fees. “Yes, sir,” Buck replied.

Councilman William Pitt asked if ECVC is the closest recycling center to the city.

“It’s the only recycling center, that we’re aware of,” Buck responded.

Buck said the city is considering making improvements to the corporate hangar at Washington-Warren Airport to make it more appealing. Also under consideration is replacing the HVAC blower system at City Hall and installing filters to collect debris present in the nearly 100-year-old piping at City Hall to prevent damage to recently installed chillers there. The sanitation division is considering replacing a rear-loading garbage truck, Buck said.

As for stormwater projects, the city is looking at additional ditch-related projects in areas throughout the city, he noted.

Councilman Doug Mercer asked whether a stormwater study by Martin-McGill has been received by the city. Buck said he talked with a Martin-McGill spokesman two weeks ago and was told the plan would be sent to the city for review. “I have not seen it yet,” Buck said.

Mercer said the hope was the city would use that study to adjust its stormwater fees. “We didn’t do it in last year’s budget, and if we don’t get it shortly, we aren’t going to do it in this year’s budget,” Mercer said.












About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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