After discussing options with representatives of the Fleming-Neon Volunteer Fire Department and the Fleming-Neon Little League, the Fleming-Neon City Council voted unanimously to begin charging the fire department the same $50 a month fee that other businesses in the city pay to have Dumpsters serviced.
Until now, neither the fire department nor Little League has been charged for servicing the Dumpsters. The city also provides water to the Little League Park at no charge. The action took place last week at a special meeting called on Thursday evening for the purpose of meeting with representatives of both groups to discuss the issue of deficits in the sanitation department. Councilman James D. Collins declined to take part because he has family connections with the fire department.
The council declined to extend a similar charge to the Little League for several reasons, primarily because of the already hard financial situation faced by Little League. This year’s Little League President Roger Collins attended the meeting and told the council that the electric bill for the ball park averages $900 a month and takes a lot of the organization’s resources. Collins said it does all it can to raise funds, but Little League provides uniforms to players at no cost and does not charge admission to games. Concessions are the biggest source of funds aside from donations, and he said that several of the local businesses that once sponsored the Little League are no longer operating.
Little League official Suzanne Ramsey told the council that a lot of the garbage in the Dumpster does not come from Little League practices or games, and said the Little League will take immediate steps to limit access to the Dumpster, which sits at the far end of the parking lot in Goose Creek. Ramsey said there is a gate at the bottom of the steep narrow road going to the park and Little League officials will begin locking it when the park is not in use.
Mayor Susie Polis said she understands that bagged garbage and larger items do not come from Little League, because its garbage either comes from the concession stands or the various receptacles around the park and neither require large garbage bags. The small amount the city would realize from Little League was also a factor since the season lasts around three months and the $50 a month would only have been levied for the active months.
Longtime fire department member Marshall Bevins also attended the meeting and told the council the fire department will also take steps to limit access to its Dumpster to stop illegal dumping there. But he pointed out that litter and illegal dumps are a countywide problem. Bevins also said that the fire department is a positive force in the community and its presence helps to keep homeowners’ insurance rates low.
However, most council members felt the fire department could afford to pay $50 a month to have the Dumpster picked up and dumped on a weekly basis. Several made the point that although the fire department is a non-profit organization, the ambulance service, which is affiliated with the department, does make a profit, and that Vanover’s Garage uses the Dumpster too. Vanover’s Garage is an auto and truck repair shop that services and maintains fire department vehicles and ambulances, but also does outside work on privately owned vehicles.
Bevins pointed out that the city would need to increase sanitation rates to actually correct the deficit balance. At Monday’s regular council meeting, City Clerk Janice Banks told the council a recent audit shows the monthly cost to run the Sanitation Department is $5,548.78 against receipts of $4,554.33. She added that tipping fees average $1,348 a month. The $50 a month billed to the fire department will not make much of a dent in the $944.45 deficit balance.
Banks said the city has 271 customers on its rolls and that it has very few delinquencies because sanitation bills are billed along with water bills.