Wastewater fees discussed, stimulus projects OK'd by council

Monday, May 4, 2009 ~ Updated 9:53 PM

A proposal to increase dumping fees for wastewater haulers drew objections Monday night at the Cape Girardeau City Council meeting as septic cleaners and a portable toilet provider asked for relief.

The city has allowed companies operating in Southeast Missouri to deliver truckloads of waste to the sewage plant at 429 Cooper St. for a flat fee of $10. The fee has remained unchanged since 1991 despite the use of larger tanker trucks to collect and dispose of the waste.

To meet a budget shortfall, the city is considering raising the fee to 7 cents per gallon. In an appearance before the council, Stan Wicks of At Your Service Portable Toilets said his customers would rebel against the higher charge when he passed it on.

"Our concern was it being raised all at once," Wicks said.

Neither Wicks, nor Norman Shelby, owner of Granny's Septic Pumping, said the city shouldn't increase rates. They also said it would make more sense to charge a per-gallon price than a flat fee. "Could we come up with a lower amount?" Shelby asked.

The fee increase is expected to raise $200,000 or more to help the city cover a $661,000 shortfall in the budget for the year beginning July 1.

Interim city manager Ken Eftink said a survey showed that 7 cents a gallon is close to the industry norm. He also said the city has calculated that the proposed charge is close to the city's costs. The city is planning a meeting with wastehaulers next week to discuss the proposal.

"We will listen to your concerns, but we have a tight budget," Mayor Jay Knudtson told the haulers.

The council also approved two projects that would use money from the federal stimulus bill passed in February.

One project, to be led by 4 Sight Counseling, will use a $325,639 grant to acquire, rehabilitate and re-sell foreclosed homes. The program, aimed at helping lower income residents obtain affordable homes, will target four homes at first.

As those homes are sold, housing assistance coordinator Steve Williams said, the money will be rolled over into other homes through the four-year life of the program. Homes between Washington Street on the south and Cape Rock Drive and Bertling Street to the north, east of Sprigg Street, will be eligible.

"It is going to be more than four homes if we get things turned over fast enough," Williams said.

The other project for using stimulus funds was the awarding of a contracts for $1.5 million for design and construction at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. R.L. Persons Construction of Poplar Bluff, Mo., won the construction contract, for $1.36 million, that will build a new ramp for Cape Aviation, replace signs, seal cracks and repair pavement throughout the airfield.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent Addresses:

429 Cooper St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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