Joe P. Asher
Cumberland City Council’s recent emergency meeting to act on replacing the city’s broken garbage truck has led to a new issue on whether funding is available to make the purchase of a new packer.
“This emergency meeting is being called due to the serious effects and complications that could be brought about by our inability to collect and dispose of solid waste,” said Mayor Carl Hatfield during the special called meeting. “At present, the city garbage packer has been declared unsafe to be driven. Our maintenance personnel have inspected the vehicle and determined immediate action must be taken to obtain another vehicle.”
Hatfield invited representatives of Waste Connections Inc. to the meeting for consideration of an option of contracting to provide the services to the city. Following discussion, council passed a motion to purchase a new garbage packer.
Approximately two days after the council reached the decision, Hatfield released a statement explaining finances might now be an issue.
“Cumberland just will not be able to satisfy the additional costs of a new garbage truck and continue to pay the operating expenses at the same time,” said Hatfield. “We do not have the emergency funds set aside for such purchases, and with our incoming revenue already committed to pay past due bills, it just isn’t feasible.”
Hatfield said a garbage rate increase would be necessary unless the service is contracted out to Waste Connection.
“We would have to obtain additional funds from the people that pay to have their garbage hauled off… unless we allow Waste Connection to assume the responsibility. Waste Connection would charge each customer the same amount that the city now charges, the city would continue to bill the customer on their water bills and Waste Connection would pay 10 percent of residential receipts and 7.5 percent of commercial receipts. This is about the same amount of return the city receives for doing our own collection.”
Council member Carolyn Elliott supports the purchase of a new garbage truck, rather than contracting for the service.
“Finances are available if they are handled correctly. We need to cut down on our added expenditures and stay within the budget,” said Elliot.
Council member Carla Barrett stated, “it’s my understanding the garbage truck we were talking about purchasing was sold.”
Hatfield explained locating another truck to purchase could take up to four months.
Finding another truck should not be a problem, said Councilman David Dixon.
“Of course four months is a long time,” said Dixon. “However, in my position as a council member, speaking to citizens of Cumberland who have Cumberland city garbage service, they want the service to remain with the city of Cumberland. They don’t want to see the service contracted out.”
Councilman Charles Raleigh said the city can afford a new garbage packer.
“This last year alone, according to the mayor’s figures, we managed to stay under budget even though we paid out over $60,000 in mercury rock clean up and the fines and penalties which would total another $30,000 or $40,000,” said Raleigh.
He said there is enough money for a new garbage truck.
“If we stayed under budget and had that much money left over, then why would we not be able to afford a packer under the new budget? The new budget has been proposed by the mayor,” said Raleigh. “All we’re doing is tweaking it so we make sure that the money’s there for each department. As far as I can tell there’s no reason for him not to go ahead and order the packer other than he’s purposely trying to shove this Waste Connection thing down our throats. We’ve made the decision not once, but twice, that we don’t want to give away our garbage (service).”
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com