The negative reactions to the proposed Clean City User Fee by Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins have been overwhelming. And equally ignorant of practical realities.
The notion of having ‘free” garbage pickup is as antiquated as door step milk deliveries. Actually the services are NOT free. The city budget subsidizes the operations of the solid waste division by over $8 million per year.
Thankfully, the notion of having adequate reserves in the city’s bank account has not been questioned. Especially since the 2019 city budget will spend $5 million “left over” 2018 funds.
More pragmatic minds are wrestling with how to get more money for solid waste collection and the city’s rainy day funds. In reality there are really only two options. Cut expenses and/or raise more money.
Lets start with expenses first. Here are some brainstorming ideas, listed in no particular order of priority.
1. Stop recycling and apply the $2.50 per month fee to garbage collection. Less than 20% of Shreveport households participate in this program. And no matter what is thrown into the blue bin, Pratt Industries only recycles paper. The blue bins could be used for garbage.
2. Consider garbage pickup every other week like recycling. The additional garbage would necessitate an additional bin for some households. The impact on labor and other fixed expenses for less pickups may not justify this change.
3. Increase fees for commercial users, especially those that generate substantial garbage. If a business has more than one bin, then it should pay more for the service.
4. Charge apartment buildings and other residential facilities that have only one water meter by the number of living units.
And then there are some “budget scrubbing” ideas to consider.
5. Stop providing services at no charge for all the Mardi Gras parades. These include police, EMS, traffic barricades, clean-up crews, and portalets. The cost to the city for the recent MLK African American parade was over $29 grand.
6. Stop similar in-kind no charge services for the many festivals including the Revel at Festival Plaza.
7. Stop contributions for civic events like the Miss USA pageants, the Independence Bowl, the fireworks at Christmas and July 4 on the riverfront, and other similar events.
8. Charge competitive fees for the use of city facilities like the Skybox at Independence Stadium, Festival Plaza, the convention center, River View theatre, Municipal Auditorium, etc.
Hopefully all the “naysayers” that proclaim Perkins has lost his mind will start using their noodles in a constructive fashion. Most households must deal with budgets and, at times, decide “needs” versus “wants” Seemingly those that are trashing the mayor, literally, will think constructively .
Its not hard to send ideas to council members who must decide this issue. And certainly positive remarks would be appreciated by these elected officials. They should be respected and not thrown under the garbage truck with Perkins.