Thursday, August 18, 2005

Full Moon Over N.A.

Much that was remarkable was said and done to Thursday evening's meeting of the New Albany City Council.

Mr. Coffey hinted that he might introduce a living wage ordinance for the city; that is a progressive's dream and would surely send a signal to the world that New Albany is liberal.

In other news, Mr. Schmidt withdrew his motion (he said he was tabling it, but it wasn't introduced or seconded) to rescind the city's commitment of EDIT monies to the Scribner Place redevelopment project. Donnie Blevins recused himself from voting on it in any case, because the back-channel discussions and public press coverage identified the rescission vote as being tied to "saving" the sanitation department as currently structured. The conflict of interest the councilman finds himself in was thrust front and center, and Donnie announced he would be unable to vote.

The city continues without an ordinance enforcement officer, which must surely make someone happy.

And, in a symbolic vote, the council approved on first reading the Wild West ordinance that would compel citizens to make their own arrangements for garbage pickup and recycling. Although every single member expressed opposition to the measure and provided voluminous reasons, they still voted for it just to keep it alive for future consideration.

Every mobbed-up hauler in America will be joining his pals in the dirty movie business in descending on New Albany now to pick up the scraps if this lunatic measure passes.

Hypocrisy, thy name is "council." Again, instead of offering any real solutions to the sanitation mess, they tried to fool the workers into thinking they were "on their side." Union rep Mickey Thompson believes these guys are his friends!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Here Come the Faeries

I'm convinced that New Albany can become a "magical" place, but I don't hold a candle to 3rd District council member Steve Price.

He's among those on the council who, in an effort to retain a money-sucking sanitation operation, are floating the idea that this little river city will soon become the home to garbage-truck faeries, who'll sprinkle us with six or more haulers if only we continue to draw down every last dime of the sewer board reserves to subsidize residential waste-hauling.

No wonder he's against Scribner Place. We'll become a tourist mecca when the world finds out about our magical faeries!

Word's still out on whether Price backs the "free-for-all" plan, too. No, it's not free, for anybody. It would have you dealing directly with one hauling company, while your neighbor deals with another, and the guy across the street struggles to get his car out of the drive because it's blocked by the half-dozen or more garbage trucks jockeying for position.

Plans like these show precisely the level of thinking of Price and his associated gang of time-servers.

Hey, here's an idea! Why don't we all band together and negotiate as a city to get the best deal? We could pay one fee to the city, who would then be responsible for holding the selected contractor to account.

Why don't we eliminate the annual deficit that's headed for seven figures, unload the dead weight of the truck leases, and hold the line on rate increases until 2007? Why don't we stabilize the bleeding that is sure to prevent sewer maintenance and upgrades? Why don't we avoid the fines for letting the reserves in our utility enterprise slip below the minimums?

Nah! That's just crazy talk. What ever was I thinking?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Facts Speak for Themselves

One local resident, who claims to be following the contract negotiations for household waste collection, urged that the city’s sanitation operations remain unchanged and that the residential fee be raised by $7 a month, a 50% increase.

“Ultimately, I believe I will pay as much or more for service with a for-profit business.”

I’m not sure what the resident means by “ultimately,” but a 50% increase today with the current sanitation service level must be compared to a 15-month freeze, followed by CPI-indexed rate increases in 2007-2013. And a cap on that is part of the negotiations, with fuel costs possibly complicating it.

The cap under discussion is 3% annually. Forget that under the current structure the collection fee would be raised each year by that same amount (but starting at a baseline equal to 150% of the current rate).

Rates under the restructuring
100(%) today through the end of ‘06
103% through ‘07
106.1% through ‘08
109.3% through ‘09
112.6% through ‘10
115.9% through ‘11
119.4% through ‘12
123% through ‘13

That’s a 23% rate increase spread over the next eight years. That is what is on the table. It is what Mayor Garner told two dozen people in an open forum. If it holds, the rate in 2013 will be no more than $16.91. Without the restructuring, the rate in 2013 will be $25.52 per month.

That's $306.24 a year under the current sanitation operation vs. $202.92 under the restructuring. And not all of that is going into the pockets of ID. The actual rate to the city is proposed at $10.62 today. The remaining funds will be used for public sanitation operations. By 2013, ID will be collecting $13.06 per household (one can), and the city will be using the remaining $3.85 to fund public sanitation strike teams.

If by 2013 there is no company willing to make a reasonable offer, the city can then consider whether it can provide the service more effectively with public employees. Those who oppose the mayor's restructuring have yet to even mount a case that the city can provide the service more effectively today or tomorrow under the current system.