"At this point, we aren't making it with the garbage," explained Sistersville Mayor Dave Fox during the monthly meeting of the SIstersville City Council. "We are losing money."
Maintenance on the city's two garbage trucks has depleted the budget for the past two years. As a result, the city may be forced to increase the municipal fee for garbage collection. Councilman Vance Ash elaborated on the issue. "In the past six months, we have spent eight to ten thousand dollars on the garbage trucks."
"Sistersville is one of the only cities in this area that has its own garbage trucks," Fox pointed out.
The Sistersville City Council recently approved the promotion of Bryan Owens to the rank of Corporal. Cpl. Owens is pictured above with Sistersville Police Chief Ben Placer.
But the city's trucks need to be replaced, desperately. "This is a major problem," Ash said. "We have to address this." He noted, however, the process to obtain a new truck is lengthy.
Councilman Curtis Heintzman reviewed the garbage budget. "We have to reassign around $15,000. We increased the garbage budget last year and if I were a betting man, I'd say we are going to have to do it again this year."
The council discussed measures which would offset the garbage budget and provide funding for a new truck.
"If you go to St. Marys, you can only have seven bags of trash out. If you set out an eighth bag, you have to go to City Hall and purchase a tag for $1," Ash explained.
Mayor Fox commented, "I'd like to see it stay the way it is and increase the garbage fee. Where else can you get service like we have?"
He noted that garbage is picked up twice per week and the crew often goes "above and beyond" for the municipal customers.
Councilwoman Ann Doig said, "I don't mind sharing the burden. In 25 years, the garbage rate has increased once and only by $1.
"Our system works well," Councilman Doug Williams added.
After crunching numbers, the council determined a rate increase would be the best remedy for the problem. City Attorney Dean Rohrig will draw up an ordinance proposal and the council will reconvene at a later date to discuss the issue further and assign a flat rate for residential and business customers.
Mayor Fox announced that a Municipal Election has been set for Thursday, March 22. Council seats will be up for grabs in all wards, with two open in the fourth ward. The mayor will also be up for re-election on that date, as well.
In public forum, Bill Howard appeared before the council to discuss heavy truck traffic downtown. "For about the last month, there has been an increase in 18-wheelers turning onto Main Street. One turned onto Diamond Street and couldn't make it. I was home so I came out and moved (my) truck so he could get through," he explained. "I was wondering if there was any way to post a sign so 18-wheelers don't try to turn."
Mayor Fox commented, "We don't have jurisdiction on the highway, so we will have to call the Department of Highways."
Councilman Ash said he would make the call.
Tim Meeks, grant coordinator from Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, presented a resolution for the final drawdown for the water project totaling more than $75,000. The project, which covered upgrades to the city's water system including the construction of a new water tank, was funded through a USDA Rural Development grant.
Meeks also updated the council on the status of the water source project. "The next step was to select an engineer, and we have selected S&S Engineering."
Mayor Fox remarked, "We are glad to use them. We have used them in the past and we were very happy with their work."
Council then entertained the first reading of an ordinance "authorizing the issuance by the City of Sistersville of not more than $120,000 in aggregate principal amount of sewage system design bond anticipation notes" for the Hanford City sewer extension project.
Fred Williams, of Steptoe & Johnson, spoke to the council regarding the bond ordinance. "This is the first step in the ordinance process," he stated. "We will actually have three readings."
Williams added, "I was asked to discuss a few points with council with respect to this project."
He went on to discuss the financing agreement and loan rates with the council, suggesting a few minor changes in the language. After speaking with Williams, the council approved the first reading.
Sistersville Police Chief Ben Placer requested the council's permission to promote Ptlm. Bryan Owens to the rank of Corporal. "Bryan has been here for two years. He's done a good job for us," Placer noted.
The council approved the measure, which will include a pay increase.