No public opposition to sanitation rate hike

Elkins City Council voted 7-2 Thursday to approve on its second and final reading a 32-percent rate hike on all sanitation customers to keep the financially troubled Elkins-Randolph County Landfill afloat.

The vote was taken after a public hearing in which no residents spoke against or in favor of the rate increase.

The ordinance will raise residents’ garbage collection rates $6.25 per month, while commercial customers’ rates will increase $10.10 per month. The 32-percent increase will apply to all customers, including fees for dumpsters and roll-offs.

The rate increase will help cover the landfill’s $333,700 in annual operating costs and $262,274 in outstanding debt. The landfill has been closed since September 2011 and has no revenue.

City Attorney Geraldine Roberts said Thursday two changes had been made to the proposed ordinance after City Council approved it 5-2 on the first vote, taken July 1. Roberts said the alterations were legal because they “were not material changes.”

The first change provided more information on how 24.25 percent of the bill paid by each customer will be placed in a separate line item in the Sanitation Fund to be used specifically for landfill closure procedures. Officials have said closing the landfill to state standards and regulations will cost $6 to $12 million.

The second change made to the proposed ordinance was that “it will not become effective until 45 days after passage,” Roberts said. Originally the ordinance was to go into effect immediately after it was passed, she said.

Councilman Mark Scott called for a role-call vote He and Councilman Lonnie Randall voted against the proposed ordinance, while council members Carman Metheny, Jim Bibey, Mitch Marstiller, Marilynn Cuonzo, Nanci Bross-Fregonara, Bob Woolwine and Gene Ochsendorf voted in favor of it. Councilman Joe Sabatino was not present at Thursday’s meeting.

The next Elkins City Council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at Elkins City Hall.