As the three rookies on the Shreveport City Council are quickly learning, it’s not all fun and games being an elected official. Such is the case with the upcoming vote on Tuesday for a $7 per month garbage fee.
New council members Levette Fuller, John Nickelson, and Grayson Boucher have had a quick education on the city’s reserves, the sanitation department costs and the anticipated total cost of $1 billion to comply with the EPA consent decree. It has not been a joyful experience.
The rookies have acknowledged three basic facts that will not change despite many media interviews and soundbites around the council horseshoe. The first being that the sanitation workers are grossly underpaid. The second is that the city reserves of $3.1 million are frightening low. Lastly that Shreveport is probably the only mid-sized city in the nation that does not charge a garbage fee.
The rookies, along with incumbent council member Willie Bradford, should also remember their duties as a council member. Besides representing their district, they also have an overriding duty to the city.
Enacting a $7 garbage fee, effective April 1, should cut the sanitation department subsidy by approximately $2 million dollars. And it will bolster the city reserves.
Here is the math. The 2019 budget for the sanitation department is $8.4 million. That equates to $700,000 per month. Thus the cost for April-December will be $6.3 million. The $7 garbage fee will generate approximately $4.16 million. (66,000 households X $7 fee X 9 months). This will effectuate a budget “savings” of $2.2 million.
These funds can not be spent by the Perkin’s administration without a budget amendment. The council must vote on any expenditures that would, in effect, be paid out of this savings. Arguments that a fee should not be approved until the council is informed on how the “savings” will be spent is not merited by facts.
Councilman Bradford has the experience to realize that “doing the right thing” does not always placate constituents. The proposed $7 per month fee equates to less than a quarter a day. He has offered many objections to the proposal but no solid solutions.
Its time for the council to make a decision. Wringing their hands does not help the sanitation workers. It is an insult to the many statements made in support of their cause.