City rates to climb, driving to be monitored - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City rates to climb, driving to be monitored

May 16, 2006

Albany -- Albany customers will pay about $3.00 more a month for sewer and garbage if city commissioners approve a rate increase in the upcoming budget. The $93 million proposed budget includes thousand of dollars more for gas than last year.

Every department, from public works to central services, is feeling the pinch. That has commissioners looking for ways to cut fuel costs and make up for the added expense.

Taking out the trash is about to cost more, and that's no big surprise for customers Chuck and Amy Jones. Homeowner Chuck Jones said, "Nobody like to pay extra money of course, but the cost of everything goes up."

The cost of fueling the city's public works fleet has skyrocketed. "When outside influences like the cost of fuel drive up our costs to provide that service, we have no choice but to pass that on to our consumers," said Public Works Director Phil Roberson.

Roberson says if commissioners approve the rate increase, your garbage bill will go up $1.53 a month, from $22.10 to $23.53 a month. And sewer and solid waste fees are increasing about $1.30 a month depending on your usage.

The rate increase is an unfortunate sign of the times for the Jones'. "Of course, everybody is aware that gas has gone up. And other energy will follow. It concerns me that it will perk through to the core inflation rate and that will mean everything will cost more. I just hope it's not too much," said Chuck Jones.

To offset fuel costs, public works started using semi-automated trucks which require fewer workers and pick up cans quicker so less time and money is spent on garbage collection. "So that when we do pass these rate increases onto people, they know we've done all we can do to hold the line," said Roberson.

Global positioning systems are another step the City might take to reduce fuel costs. They can track employees driving to make sure they're not misusing city vehicles, and they show the quickest routes to cut back on mileage. "Once you have the system in place, you streamline and make your operation more efficient," Roberson said.

The GPS systems are costly, about $800 a vehicle. But city leaders say they will pay for themselves if they save gas -- a necessity we're paying dearly for from our cars to our trash cans.

If commissioners approve the rate increases, you'll see higher sewer and garbage bills come July.

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