Garbage rates expected to rise next summer

ALBANY, Ga. -- The head of the Albany's public works department told city commissioners Tuesday that they will likely have to raise garbage rates July 1, 2011, to finance needed equipment purchases.

Over the next six years, public works intends to replace much of its aging fleet of garbage trucks and other solid waste equipment, which is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $4.2 million.

To pay for it, Public Works Director Phil Roberson said that the city's debt service will jump from around $500,000 per year to nearly $900,000.

"To meet that debt obligation, we believe that rates will likely have to be increased by $1.13 per month, per house," Roberson said.

Although the rate change would have to officially adopted by the City Commission and likely would come through next year's budget, Roberson said he was giving the board early notice so that public works could begin working with the lender, the Georgia Municipal Association.

Rates likely won't change before July 1, he said.

The alternative to replacing the aging fleet is to pay increasing maintenance costs. Roberson told the commission that the last time the board took that particular posture as a cost savings measure it ended up spending nearly $1 million a year in fleet maintenance costs.

Garbage rates go into the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, which is separate from the city's general fund. While the general fund consists of property tax revenues paid by property owners in the city of Albany, the Solid Waste Enterprise fund is solely funded by those who have city garbage and sewer and is designed to be self-sustaining.