City garbage pickup charges rising

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monthly garbage collection fees are going up by a few dollars for the roughly 9,600 customers in Vicksburg, the board of mayor and aldermen decided Tuesday.

“We’ve been running deficits in (the garbage) fund, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid,” said Mayor Paul Winfield, who was absent from the meeting so he could take part in a groundbreaking ceremony at the U.S. Army Engineer and Research Development Center.

Garbage fee increases

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• Single-family residential and small commercial:

   Increase of $2.06, to $19.95 from $17.89

• Downtown small commercial:

   Increase of $5.01, to $48.54 from $43.53

• Additional containers:

   Increase of $0.62, to $6.02 from $5.40

If you go

A public hearing on the proposed 2009-10 fiscal year budget for the City of Vicksburg will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday in room 109 of the City Hall Annex, 1415 Walnut St.

Click Here for the City of Vicksburg proposed budget,

For single-family residences and small commercial customers who have garbage collected twice weekly, monthly fees will rise by $2.06, from $17.89 to $19.95. Downtown businesses will see a sharper rise in fees, from $43.53 to $48.54, for collection four times weekly. Collection of additional containers will now cost $6.02, up from $5.40. Waste Management of Mississippi Inc. is contracted to collect garbage, but the city handles the billing and administration of the service.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield approved the fee hikes without comment. Winfield said the city will continue to subsidize garbage collection despite the increases and added his new administration had no choice but to raise rates.

“I inherited this, I didn’t create it,” he said. “We’ll still be subsidizing that fund, we’re just limiting our subsidy. I think people can stomach small incremental increases rather than a big increase at one time.”

Garbage fees were last raised for residences and small businesses in January 2008 by $1.09, from $16.80 to $17.89 per month. Before that, fees last rose in 2006 from $14.70 to $16.80. 

While Winfield did not want to speculate on whether residents might see similar increases in water and sewer fees, he noted the city is also subsidizing that fund.

“Right now we have millions of dollars we owe to the general fund due to utilities subsidies,” he said, adding: “I was real conscious of not raising (property) taxes, and we were able to do that and keep a lot of our services by cutting a lot of capital expenditures in the upcoming budget.”

A public hearing on the proposed $31 million budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. in room 109 of the City Hall Annex, 1415 Walnut St.

Meanwhile, Winfield said he soon will discuss ways to cut natural gas costs for the city with the aldermen, part-time Strategic Planner Paul Rogers and Accountant Doug Whittington. The mayor said he is not in favor of privatizing gas service, but added there are bulk purchasing options that may make more sense than current practices.

“Politically, I think (privatization) is an easy route, but in the long term it would hurt the citizens,” he said. “There’s an opportunity with Mississippi State Gas, which has a non-profit component, that may allow us to save some money by buying in bulk, and there are going to be some others options that may be viable for us. We’ll be looking at some new ways to save money.”

The city is one of few municipalities in the state that has not privatized its natural gas service. It began using a gas price adjustment system in January 2006, after the city incurred a $4 million debt from purchasing gas due to an unexpected surge in prices. The first adjustment was set at a rate of $9.74 per 1,000 cubic feet. Before the gas price adjustment system, customers paid a flat fee based on a tiered usage structure. Following five approved price hikes beginning in August 2007 — when natural gas cost $1.76 — two subsequent decreases have reduced natural gas prices to $1.89 from a high of $8.26 in June 2008.


Contact Steve Sanoski at