The Fleming-Neon City Council joined the Letcher County Fiscal Court in raising its sanitation rates at its first meeting of 2016. The rate increase for household pick-up will increase from $12 per month to $15 per month following the second reading of the ordinance setting the fees. Other fees such as Dumpster rental, dump fees, and fees to businesses will be finalized by the second reading as well.
Mayor Susie Polis told the council that the amount of money collected in sanitation fees last year was $57,493.88 against total expenses of $57,263.17, leaving a small surplus of $230.71. She said that will not be sufficient in the coming year as tipping fees (the fee to dump solid waste at landfills) are scheduled to increase sharply and the city’s packer truck is starting to wear out as well.
Councilman Tom Haynes made a motion to table the increase for a month in order to study the effects of re-opening the county recycling center under the control of the City of Whitesburg, but it died for lack of a second. Polis said the participation in Fleming-Neon for recycling before the county announced the center’s closure hadn’t been enough that it would have much effect either way, with only a small percentage participating.
“The people of Fleming-Neon are not high on recycling,” said Polis.
Haynes also pointed out that a good deal of illegal dumping takes place in city Dumpsters on weekends. This has been an ongoing problem in Fleming-Neon and Polis acknowledged that it has continued. She also said that there is a small problem with non-payment of sanitation bills. Sanitation fees are billed along with utilities bills (water bills) and Polis said that people who are delinquent with their water bills are also delinquent with their sanitation bills.
Haynes said he did not like to raise the fee, but that there is very little choice as the city must continue to provide sanitation services to its citizens. Councilman James D. Collins agreed and added that in its second reading, the ordinance to raise the rates must be clear on rate increases for businesses, customers with more than one pick-up a week, apartments, and every other sanitation customer.
“It’s not a matter of wanting to raise it,” said Haynes, “but we have to keep our heads above water.”
Polis also told the council that longtime Neon dentist Dr. Sam Quillen Jr. will retire and close his office at the end of January. She said that will leave the city without a dentist. Quillen came to work in his father Sam Quillen Sr.’s practice after completing dental school and has been a pillar of the community since.
There was no police report in the absence of Police Chief Mike Dingus, and Water Department Manager Chris Banks reported a water loss of 38 percent for December.