By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – The Lee County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to increase the $9 monthly residential garbage pickup fee to $12.50.
That’s a 39 percent increase for more than 14,000 customers. The vote was 4-1.
The commercial rate will increase by 10 percent.
Lee County Solid Waste director Terry McGlaun said the increase will help keep pace with expenses, such as fuel and wear and tear on vehicles. “To continue the level of service, we need to raise the rate,” McGlaun said.
It’s the first increase since 2005.
County administrator Sean Thompson said the rate increase must be publicized according to state law before it begins, likely in December.
District 1 supervisor Phil Morgan opposed the increase.
“I can’t go that high,” he said. “All we’re doing in my opinion is making it harder for people who already pay their bill.”
Other supervisors said they didn’t like the increase but believed it was necessary.
“I hate to do it,” said District 4 supervisor Tommie Lee Ivy. “But if we’re going to operate, we’ve got to do something.”
The solid waste department has a 2014 fiscal year budget of $2.4 million. The county has subsidized garbage pickup in the range of $62,000 to $350,000 annually from Fiscal Year 2003 to 2013.
The rate increase will likely keep supervisors from dipping into the county’s unrestricted reserves to cover solid waste pickup expenses.
“It should be self-sufficient now for the foreseeable future,” Thompson said.