Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2011, 9:06 pm

Costs outpace revenue for East Moline garbage collection

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By Lindsay Hocker, lhocker@qconline.com

EAST MOLINE -- Rising costs will cause a $207,100 deficit in the city's garbage budget, according to figures presented at Monday night's budget workshop.

That portion of the preliminary budget has an estimated revenue of $714,500 and expenditures of $921,600. City administrator Rich Keehner said costs of providing garbage collection services, such as the price of fuel, have gone up in the last few years, but the fees remain the same.

Garbage is one of seven divisions of the city'smaintenance department. A 2003 ordinance set the cost of garbage collection services at $6 per month per residential home.

"Right now, $6 per month does not pay the bill," said recently retired city finance directorJim Hughes.

Ald. Cheri Bustos,4th Ward, said she's interested in finding a way to charge more of residents who don't recycle to help lower the city's landfill tipping costs. Ald. Dave Kelley, 5th Ward, prefers cutting expenses to make them compatible with revenue rather than considering higher fees. He noted, however, that if the city isn't charging enough, higher may be needed.

Ald. Kelley also noted he recently voted against buying a new garbage truck. Dave Lambrecht, citymaintenance services director, said relying on garbage trucks in bad shape results in costly repair bills.

The preliminary East Moline 2011-2012 fiscal year budget sets revenue at $10,221,900 and expenditures at $10,494,600, leaving a deficit of $272,700. The budget would be balanced by moving money from landfill host fees and the garbage fund.

Mr. Keehner said there's stress on the general fund and "it's not business as usual" when it comes to the budget.He noted both the economic development director and the city planner positions are open in the current budget, with city looking at cutting four positions.

At the last budget meeting, eliminating thecivilian community service officer and a police officer was presented as part of the police department's budget. What other positions may be cut haven't been decided yet, Mr. Keehner said. He said he has mailed letters to city employees' unions about possible layoffs or position eliminations, adding the unions may offer concessions or furlough days.

The next budget meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in the city council chambers, 915 16th Ave. The 2011-2012 budget is scheduled to be adopted April 18.