BV council OKs rate increase for trash service

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Berryville City Council voted Tuesday to approve a rate increase for 2019 from the Carroll County Solid Waste Authority (CCSWA).

In a letter submitted to the council, executive director Phil Jackson says CCSWA is allowed an increase that reflects an annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). CCSWA has not requested the allowable increase since 2008, Jackson’s letter says, but relied on countywide growth of its customer base and the implementation of programs that improved both effectiveness and efficiency to generate the revenue required to maintain a quality solid waste management program.

Jackson says the total increase reflected by the CPI for the 10-year time period between 2008 and 2018 is 16.9 percent. During the last five years, he says the percentage was 8.7 percent, and the last 12 months the allowable increase based on the CPI is 3.63 percent.

In July 2018, he says Waste Management increased CCSWA’s landfill disposal fee by 5 percent, and that increase coupled with significantly rising fuel, insurance, personnel and maintenance costs has made it necessary for CCSWA to request a rate increase of 3.5 percent effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Mayor Tim McKinney said the rate increase will include increasing the residential bag tag rate to $1.50 per tag.

“I think they’re doing a good job, and when you compare rates they’re very competitive,” he said. “This is a minor rate increase. I recommend that you all approve this.”

The council also voted to approve Ordinance 1043 on its third and final reading, setting the salary for city attorney Clint Scheel at $26,000 per year, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

The board later voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2017 Audit Report.

“I talked to the auditors, and they said it was a good audit,” McKinney said. “There were no weird findings.”

The council reviewed the proposed 2019 Operating Budget, which will be voted on in January.

McKinney said the budget includes a 2.5 percent raise for city employees based on the CPI.

“The $20 million in the budget looks like a lot,” he said, “but a lot of that is for the water project. We’re in good financial shape and are able to fund most requests. Sewer is always our challenge, but I think the rate increase we did recently is helping a little bit.”

Alderman Max Nichols asked if there was an update on the water fleas.

Mayor Miller of Jacobs Inc. had presented a report to the council in November on the city’s wastewater treatment plant, saying there have been consistent issues when testing the water fleas, or cladocera — small crustaceans that live in freshwater habitats. The issue was consistent enough, Miller had said, that the regulations outlined in the permit required Jacobs Inc. to do a toxicity reduction evaluation to determine what was causing a problem and present a solution to the state to address it.

He had said Jacobs Inc. would be working with environmental consultant FTN Associates of Little Rock for the test, which could range in price from about $30,000 to $89,000 depending on how extensive the testing was.

“The water fleas are doing well,” McKinney said. “Ever since they asked us to do the test, we’ve passed every test.”

“Did they ever find out what caused the issue?” Nichols asked.

McKinney said the toxicity reduction evaluation is supposed to determine the cause.

“But the water fleas aren’t dying now,” he said. “They’re doing the bare minimum they have to do to satisfy the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) now. They got the initial report to ADEQ, and they’ve been up here talking to some folks and doing some testing. It can be so many different things.”

Also at the meeting, Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos presented the police department’s monthly report for November. Last month, Bartos said, 119 citations were issued, 62 offenses were reported and 14 accidents were reported. He said the department served three warrants, did 10 fingerprints and did 11 VIN verifications. The department took in $1,885 in fines and bonds, Bartos said, and had a clearance rate of 89 percent.

“That clearance rate is excellent,” said alderwoman Linda Riddlesperger.

The council scheduled a special meeting for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, to avoid conflict with the New Year’s Day holiday. McKinney said District Judge Dale Ramsey will attend the meeting so that the council members can take their oaths of office for the new year.

“I want to thank you all for all the work you’ve done in the past year,” McKinney said, “and I look forward to the next year.”

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