BY VERSHAL HOGAN
The Crossett City Council voted Monday to increase garbage rates rather than charge a pickup fee for each time residents want junk removed.
Councilman Cary Carter brought the proposal for the change to the council, saying that after the pickup fee schedule had been in place for a year, a city committee had reviewed it and recommended the rate increase in its place.
“I think a lot of people are not calling (for pickup) because of the price, the amount,” Carter said.
“Nobody was calling and people were just putting it out there and we were having to pick it up anyway.”
Instead of having a three-tiered pickup fee schedule based on the size of the load, Carter said the committee had come up with the solution of adding a $1 monthly increase to each residence’s garbage bill.
“They will be able to dispose of as many loads as they want for $12 a year instead of $15 a load,” he said.
While residents will still have to call for pick up like they do under the system in place since last year, if the junk truck is on the way to a scheduled pick up and the crew sees an unscheduled load, they can still remove it, Carter said.
“We are still not going to be driving around looking for junk,” he said.
Public Works Director Jeff Harrison said the increase would generate approximately $29,000 annually for the city. Assistant City Clerk Lisa Gulledge said year-to-date the city had only collected $1,650 in scheduled junk pick-ups.
During the meeting Mayor Crystal Marshall also told the council that the city’s revenue took a significant hit in June not because of scaled back purchasing on the part of consumers but because a private company’s audit found they had overpaid in taxes.
“Had they underpaid, the city would receive extra money, but because they overpaid those funds were taken back to make the taxpayer whole,” Marshall said.
“Other tax numbers, while being lower than budget, have not been as extreme as the projections provided in partnership with the Arkansas Municipal League. We again remain cautiously optimistic with our revenues. We will continue to closely monitor our revenue streams and compare them to budget.”
In other news:
-Marshall told the council that the cages at the former Cone Crossland Zoo have been sold, and that Councilman Dale Martinie has received confirmation that the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo will be collecting the remaining cages by the end of the week.
“We look forward to a new day, to being able to move forward with that property after getting it all cleaned up,” she said.
-The council adopted changes to the Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement it has in place with RES Renewables in connection with the solar farm the company is building in the area.
Attorney Bill Spivey with Wright Lindsey Jennings told the council that the requested changes will allow the company flexibility to put the PILOT agreement in place when the project is actually completed rather than having to wait until a certain contract date.
“Some of the language, the changes in this ordinance have to do with timing,” Spivey said. “The first pilot agreement set a date certain in 2023. In point of fact it may go into effect sooner, it may go on later, but until the project is finished then the pilot agreement will not begin to run.
“These are big projects; there are a lot of things going on there are a lot of acres and sometimes they go into effect on time and sometimes they don’t, and this just recognizes the reality.”
The council adopted the amendments unanimously.
-Marshall said the city had created a community dirt pile on the east side of the municipal sports complex.
“This idea originated from an employee as a way to give back to the community,” Marshall said. “While fixing roads and other projects good dirt is being uncovered. An employee suggested we start a community dirt pile similar to what the county has on (highway) 133 with gravel. And that is exactly what we did. East of the sports complex there now lies a community dirt pile where citizens can come get dirt first come first serve. The dirt must be shovel loaded. No equipment.”