FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - Cut services or raise rates, that has been the decision facing city leaders in Florence for several years, when it comes to commercial and residential garbage rates.
Operating at a significant deficit, city leaders were forced to make a decision this Tuesday morning during a city council meeting.
In front of a packed auditorium, six city council members were left facing a decision that previous administrations avoided.
Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock says the warning signs started showing up in an audit in 2008,
“2009, also in 2010, 2011; one of the years it said that we recommend we do something with the rates.”
With garbage rates lower than most cities in north-west Alabama, Florence leaders say they were operating their solid waste department in the red for at least four years.
As a reserve account started drying up, the mayor and city council knew something needed to be done quickly.
“We do have to do the increase, we have no choice,” explained Mayor Haddock.
In a five to one vote, the council voted to raise garbage rates for both residential and commercial customers.
Household garbage will now cost residents sixteen dollars a month, while commercial rates will increase by 45-percent.
“We talked about cutting services, we don’t want to cut services, we don’t need to do that. We provide good services,” said Haddock. “You can do one of two things, you either increase revenue or you cut services.”
Mayor Haddock says the increase should sustain Florence’s Solid Waste Department for at least the next five years.
The garbage rate increase is set to go into effect during the April billing cycle.
Councilman Herman Graham is the only council member who voted against the rate increase in tuesday’s meeting.