Residents weigh in on garbage collection fee

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - For the third straight year the City of Lake Charles will be operating in a deficit. Increased retirement funds, gasoline and low sales tax revenue are just some of the reasons for the projected $3,500,000 shortfall in the 2011 - 2012 fiscal year. To avoid using emergency dollars, city officials are considering a garbage collection fee to help offset the deficit.

"It is terrible. We do pay enough in the city for not having to pay for that... We should get some type of service for free," said Debora Boatner, Lake Charles resident.

Kip Bonin used to pay $25 dollars a month for the same service when he lived in Florida. He knows firsthand it may be hard for some people to come up with a garbage fee.

"Living on a fixed income, they've got extra fees they want to charge. It is hard to get by from month to month now on what I'm getting," said Bonin.

Others may be in the minority on this one.

"I feel like we are lucky here in Lake Charles that we haven't had to pay fees like most cities do. My concern is I feel like if we do pay fees we ought to have a recycling program which the city doesn't currently have," said Valerie Smith, Lake Charles resident.

"I think that if they need help with the deficit that we are going to face that they should charge for it. I wouldn't say charge $15," said Martha Smith, Lake Charles resident.

Though the city hasn't set a price, if they collected five dollars from each household they would generate enough to pay the $1,500,000 per year it cost to take out the trash.

"We're not talking about solving the deficit problem by charging a garbage and trash collection fee. We are looking at something that would be very nominal and in relative terms to what other communities are paying," explained Mayor Randy Roach.

When compared to other cities five dollars would be a deal. Here's how they numbers fall per month:

Sulphur: $15.66
DeQuincy: $17.00
Moss Bluff: $17.50
Iowa: $18.24
Westlake: $19.00
Vinton: $20.25

Still others want say trash the idea and make other budget cuts.

"It seems like they are trying to do what other cities do because apparently that's the band wagon. Other cities may be charging and getting something extra, but think  think if we keep it like it is it says something to people you know what we're going to take care of our citizens. We're not going to try to get every little penny from them. We're going to do what's right. We're going to keep it special. We're going to clean up our own trash," said Joshua Terziu, Lake Charles resident.

The idea is just up for consideration and would require a lot more discussion. Meanwhile, the City of Lake Charles has looked at other ways to cut. Each department shaved what they could. They've eliminated 30 budgeted positions, limited travel and purchases of new vehicles and equipment. The budget must be approved by September 15th.

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