Garbage fee increase approved by Macon council committee

Councilman Mike Cranford’s proposal to increase Macon’s waste management fee by 10 percent to help pay for closing the city landfill made it easily through the City Council’s Public Works and Engineering Committee on Tuesday, but even those who supported it there said they’re unlikely to vote for for the issue when it comes before the full council Dec. 21.

The garbage fee, now $15 per household per month, or $10 per month for Macon Housing Authority residents, would increase to $16.50 and $11 respectively, according to Cranford’s ordinance.

Cranford said every year the city looks for money to fund landfill closure, but only once -- in the current budget -- has any been allocated. He proposes locking money from a fee increase into a designated fund that can’t be spent for anything else.

“I know it’s not going to be popular,” Cranford said, but the city has to do something about the landfill. Part of the $7.6 million the Macon Water Authority is offering the city for landfill closure and levee maintenance -- a deal that’s been stalled for weeks anyway -- “won’t even put a dent in it,” Cranford said.

According to the city Finance Department, this rate hike should bring in $350,000 to $400,000 per year, he said.

Councilman Ed DeFore said he was first elected nearly 40 years ago on opposition to a $2 garbage fee, which was eliminated for 17 years. He thinks the only way to close the landfill, which he agrees needs to be dealt with, is to propose it for a special purpose local option sales tax vote.

Committee Chairman Lonnie Miley, Councilman Rick Hutto, and DeFore said they all think the full council should get to consider Cranford’s proposal, so they passed it out of committee. While some committee members wouldn’t say whether they will approve of it in a council vote, DeFore announced he will vote against it.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.