WILMINGTON — City council looked at a possible rate increase to pay for a landfill expansion during Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting.
During the Solid Waste/Recycling Committee report, Committee Chairperson Michael Allbright presented a draft ordinance to the full council about the possible increase.
“It’s a super conservative approach. It’s responsible and it’s really transparent,” said Allbright.
Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker spoke to the council about why the rate increase would need to happen.
“We’re at a position right now where we have a small buffer and if everything stayed status quo — the revenue that we bring in and the expenses that incur each year — it’s pretty much a flatline right now,” said Shidaker. “The determination has been made I would say more than a year ago that we want to protect, save and expand our landfill. So, to expand we have to find the revenue somewhere.”
Shidaker wanted to assure citizens that this has nothing to do with recycling or trash collection. It is only about expanding the landfill. But he did mention that if recycling increases, the life of the landfill increases.
The first phase of the expansion is the most expensive, according to Shidaker. The estimated cost would be $2,515,000. The reason for the high price is because the landfill footprint would have to be created. He indicated with the first phase they would need to get loans because they don’t have the money to pay for this upfront.
He also noted the rate increase wouldn’t be able to cover the entire expansion at the end of seven years, but each phase after should result in lesser costs.
“We felt that it wasn’t appropriate for this generation, right now, to bear the burden of that entire expense. What you do is you establish a plan with the idea that at some point in the future, your revenue will meet your expenses,” he said.
While it won’t happen in the first year, it should happen with the next phase.
With the rates, all assessments, and fees are included to be transparent so citizens would know what they’re paying for in the proposed five-year plan.
“No one likes a rate increase, I’ll be the first to say. But we let ourselves get to a point where if we don’t expand the landfill we have to close it and we didn’t budget any money for that either,” said Councilmember Matt Purkey. “It’s a smart plan, it is a big increase but it’s necessary to fund the project. And we do have the safety net of reviewing rates annually. So, if we need to make a course correction we can.”
The council will hold a public hearing for citizens to come and address any concerns residents might have at the May 3 council meeting.
Also during council:
• During the mayor’s report, Mayor John Stanforth proclaimed April as Donate Life Month. With him during the proclamation was Shelby LaPine, the mother of Lucas LaPine. Lucas passed away in 2014, shortly after graduating from East Clinton High School, due to an accident while working for the Clinton County Highway Department. Lucas was an organ donor and, according to his mother, his donations saved 75 lives. “His heart still beats,” she said.
• Council held the third and final reading of a resolution adopting the Downtown Wilmington Pedestrian Improvement Plan.
• And council approved an ordinance eliminating the maximum age requirement for the Wilmington Police Department. This approval will mean there will be a wider potential and diverse pool of applicants.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.