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Walthourville looks to turn trash pickup over to a private enterprise, puts in new water rates
Walthourville seal

WALTHOURVILLE — A Walthourville City Council member who voted against turning the city’s trash pickup over to a private provider is now starting to back the idea.

Council members approved putting the sanitation service out to bid with a 3-2 vote at their May 14 meeting. Patrick Underwood initially voted against privatizing the city’s sanitation service, but after looking at the city’s bills, he said he was coming around to Boston’s point of view.

“We do need to take a look at sanitation,” he said. “I agree — I changed my mind on it. I like being local, but at the same time, we need to save money.”

Boston stated in the May 14 meeting that he wanted to see the city get out of the sanitation business. He asked that a letter he had on his position be included in the meeting minutes.

In his letter, Boston stated the city’s sanitation department faces “significant financial challenges, which threaten the fiscal stability of our city. The annual cost of $130,000 to the landfill, coupled with the escalating expenses of vehicle maintenance, insurance, fuel, and other liabilities, has resulted in our department operating at a substantial loss.”

Boston pointed out the debt is scheduled to reach approximately $85,000 by the next billing cycle, and the city also has a $40,000 note on the truck.

“Our reserves have been nearly depleted,” Boston continued his letter. “This financial strain will soon necessitate an increase in taxes, specifically through a higher millage rate, impacting all our constituents.”

To Boston, the benefits of privatization include a cost savings through elimination of operational costs, landfill fees and the generating of revenue through a franchise fee.

“By selecting a private sanitation company, we can negotiate a franchise fee that will generate additional revenue for city,” he added in his letter. “This new income stream will further strengthen our financial position.”

The City of Walthourville also provides trash service to Allenhurst but without a formal agreement, Boston added. Boston said Allenhurst could contract with the same company Walthourville chooses, if the city goes with privatization, or choose a different provider.

Most households, Boston said, currently use multiple trash cans while only paying for one. Privatizing the service, he said, would standardize billing and ensure fairness.

“Continuing with the current system will only deep our debt, leading to inevitable tax hikes,” he wrote. “Privatizing sanitation services will prevent this scenario, avoiding increased taxes and allowing us to manage our finances more effectively.

“Privatizing our sanitation services offers a pragmatic solution to our current financial woes, ensuring cost savings, generating revenue and providing job security for our employees,” Boston continued. “This move will not only stabilize our budget but also enhance the quality of life for our residents by avoiding higher taxes and ensuring efficient waste management.”

Water rates in Walthourville are going up this month and those new rates will be on the June water bills. The new rates, proposed by Georgia Rural Water, are the first increases in the city’s water rates since 2012.

The city has approximately 2,250 water and sewer connections. The base rate for water each month is going from $18 to $23, and the total water and sewer base bill is going from $41.35 to $46.

The average use per month is just over 5,000 gallons. The new rate at 5,000 gallons is $43.75 for water and $55.50 for sewer, a total of $99.25 and a $20.09 total increase over the previous rate. At 6,000 gallons, the charge is $48.25 for water and $62 for sewer, for a total of $110.25 and an increase of $24.15 in all.

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