March 2, 2016 Edition

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WR trash rates increase
in time for March bill

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council voted to approve an ordinance to increase sanitation rates by $5 on all city accounts at a special meeting called Wednesday, Feb 24.

This rate change is required to offset a deficit from an increase in tipping fees from $9.25 to $10.25 at the beginning of the year. Walnut Ridge was looking at a deficit of about $77,000 in the sanitation department without the rate increase. However, due to holding a special meeting that allowed a faster passing of the ordinance, Snapp said residents should see the increase on their March water bills, which should allow enough additional revenue for the sanitation department to barely break even.

In efforts to provide more efficient and safer service, Snapp said that over the next two to three years, the city will switch to uniform rolling cans for all WR accounts. The cans are designed to be used with an lifting arm garbage truck, which Snapp said he hopes the city will be able to invest in after full implementation of the new cans is achieved.

Cans will be furnished by the city but damaged or lost cans will be at the cost of the resident. The serial number on the can will be linked to the account to aid in recovery of lost or stolen cans. Additional cans will also be available at the expense of the account holder. Snapp said this will help to balance the payment of sanitation rates as those who generate more waste will have to pay additional fees, where as those who generate less than what can fit in a single can will only have to pay the baseline fee.

Unfortunately, this sanitation structure is still several years out for Walnut Ridge. Snapp said the only way to adjust fees for trash pickup is across the board with everyone getting the same increase. The new structure, however, would allow for a better balance of rates based on trash collected and help to prevent abuse of the city's trash pickup.

In other business:

the rezoning of property at West Elm and Southwest Sixth, the site of the future Lawrence County Jail and sheriff's office, passed on a 6-2 vote. Aldermen Jeff Taylor and Allen Smith voted against the rezoning.

the council approved a bid from Moonshine Lights to install emergency lights and related equipment on a 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Vehicle and two Ford Police Interceptor Sedans. While Moonshine Lights was not the lowest bid, when factoring in costs involved in transporting vehicles outside of the county, it was a comparable bid. The council agreed it was also a benefit to the community to use the local business.

aldermen approved the use of a First National Bank in Bono safety deposit box to store file backups of city records in a secure off-site location. IberiaBank in Hoxie had previously been used for this purpose but is set to close in March.

the petition to consolidate College City and Walnut Ridge received unanimous approval. The necessary paperwork was filed with the county clerk's office and Snapp said it could go to election as early as May 3. See related story.

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