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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

OK for Waterville trash fee expected

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Taking out the trash could cost a household more than a $100 a year in the village of Waterville.

At its meeting Monday, council is expected to approve a monthly $8.65 fee for each of the 2,013 units along the refuse collection routes.

The fee, the first ever for Waterville, would generate $208,949 a year to help erase a shortfall in the 2010 general fund budget.

Council considered a $4 monthly fee in recent weeks, but $8.65 was the figure in the budget council approved 5-2 last week. Mayor Derek Merrin and Councilman John Gouttiere voted no.

The mayor said he would have preferred more spending cuts. "Residents already pay for refuse collections through income and property taxes," he said.

Dale Knepper, village finance director, said the trash fee probably will be on water and sewer bills beginning in May.

In addition to approving the refuse fee, council changed the income-tax-collection split, giving $171,000 more to the general fund and less to the five-year capital fund.

Village income tax receipts normally are split 75 percent to the general fund and 25 percent to the capital fund.

Because the village needed more money in the general fund last year, the allocation was changed to 85 percent to the general fund and 15 percent to the capital fund.

Council also imposed a resident fee for ambulance transport starting in April at a rate of 50 percent of the nonresident fee, a move that will bring in an estimated $20,000.

The nonresident rate for basic life support transport is $400 plus $7 per loaded mile and for advanced life support transport is $500 plus $7 per loaded mile.

Mayor Merrin said he opposes the transport fee as well.

"Residents already pay for those services," he said.

The mayor said government officials often have to decide whether to increase taxes or reduce expenditures.

"Council chose to raise taxes and that hurts the quality of life for residents," he said, adding that the balanced budget shouldn't be considered a successful move because "it hurts resi-dents' pocketbooks."

Although the village has eliminated funding for the Easter egg hunt, that event will continue through the support of other sponsors and it is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Conrad Park along Michigan Avenue.

The village also cut funding for its holiday party, coffee for employees and committees, the July 4 fireworks, the fishing derby, the public works open house, and Music in the Park, and eliminated the village subsidy for the YMCA summer recreation program and the Waterville Historical Society.

Beginning in June, the village newsletter, called the Canal Post, will no longer be printed and mailed. Rather, it will be distributed electronically.

Appropriations do not include funds to hire any additional employees, but hiring a police officer in September to replace an officer who resigned in December is included.

Replacements for three public works department employees who have given written notices of their retirements are included, as are the estimated severance payments for the three employees.

Mr. Merrin proposed a delay in filling two of the vacancies to save $60,000 this year, but received support only from Councilman Jeff Marty when the proposal went to a vote.

Possible future sources of village revenue include reducing the income tax credit for income tax paid to another municipality, selling the old town hall property, creating a street lighting assessment, and establishing a street tree maintenance assessment.

General fund revenue includes the donation of $7,349 from council members who agreed to forgo their raise this year.

The general fund, which covers the administration, the police and fire departments, and the income tax and zoning departments, includes $3,356,729 in revenue and $3,281,935 in expenditures for 2010, leaving an end-of-year balance of $176,461.

Appropriations in all funds for 2010, including the water and sewer funds and capital funds, total about $10.4 million in revenue and nearly $10.6 million in expenditures, leaving an ending balance of about $1.8 million, down from the 2009 ending balance of about $2 million.



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