The City of Minden may raise sewer, sanitation and recreation fees if the 2015-16 proposed budget passes as discussed in a series of budget workshops.
Mayor Tommy Davis says the city isn’t broke, but with expenses going up and the city charging such low fees for services, council members agreed it’s time to raise fees to help offset costs incurred by the city.
If the proposed budget passes, sanitation rates will go up $4 per household. Councilwoman Fayrine Kennon-Gilbert says she doesn’t have a problem raising the fees if citizens are getting the service they are paying for.
“I get calls every day,” she said. “I can’t tell them we are raising fees when they aren’t getting the services they’re paying for.”
Davis says he will look over the contract with Republic Services and schedule a meeting to discuss the issue.
Councilman Wayne Edwards says a representative from Republic Services rode around his district recently and talked to residents about the sanitation services.
“They have put more trucks on the street, they have brought trucks out of Shreveport,” he said. “Some trucks are coming out of Florida and he plans on putting two new additional trucks on site.”
The contract expires in 2019.
Sewer rates will also be going up by $2.95 if the budget passes, Davis said. If this passes, it will raise about $25,000 in revenue, he added.
Recreation fees will also be going up this coming fiscal year. If passed, sports fees for early registration will go to $30 for football, $10 for basketball, $15 for soccer, baseball and softball. For those who register late, fees will double.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper is asking for vehicles to round out his fleet. Cropper originally asked for five vehicles, three new patrol units and two used vehicles – one for the K9 unit and another for detectives. That number was whittled down to three vehicles – one new patrol unit to replace the one totaled earlier this year, and the two used vehicles.
“The K9 unit is probably in worse shape than the detectives’ unit,” Cropper said. “The K9 does not have a police package. It’s just a standard SUV, and it’s got a lot of miles on it now. It’s in the shop constantly.”
The police department has a total of 18 cars, 14 of which are patrol units. If the proposed budget passes, the chief will get one new vehicle and one used vehicle.
Streets were another big topic of Tuesday’s meeting. Public Works Director George Rolfe says it would be better this year to repair potholes in the city’s streets rather than overlay. He says if they can make repairs this year, next fiscal year they can begin overlays.
“Realistically, I think we need to concentrate on repairs,” he said. “I would rather see the money spent on repairs so that next year we can do more overlays. We’ve got a lot of isolated areas that need repairs.”
Out of $750,000, Rolfe requested half the money go to the water department and the other half go to electric with some of that going to tree trimming.
Also in the proposed budget will be a two percent longevity raise across the board. The fire department already gets a mandatory two percent raise, so they will not see an additional two percent.
At the August 3 meeting, draft ordinances will need to be presented to the council for any fee increases, which would go into effect with the new budget year. The proposed budget will need to be passed at the Sept. 8 meeting so it will go into effect by Oct. 1.
Beginning with a $750,000 overage, council members and department heads were able to shave away almost $200,000 from that. The remaining approximate $500,000 will come from the city’s reserves to balance the budget, Davis said.