BPU Proposes No Increase For Solid Waste Disposal

There is not a proposed increase for Jamestown Board of Public Utilities customers for solid waste disposal, but an increase for water and wastewater next year.

The proposed 2014 BPU budgets for four of the five divisions were released to its board during a regular meeting Tuesday. The BPU has five divisions – electric, solid waste, wastewater, water and district heating.

Under the solid waste division, the rate is being proposed to stay at $12.10 a month for customers. However, that rate could change for customers who do not recycle. During last month’s board meeting, BPU officials discussed starting a recycling incentive program to encourage more recycling. The proposal was to increase rates to $20 a month for those who do not recycle at least once during a monthly billing period. If a customer does recycle, their bill would drop to $10 a month.

David Leathers, BPU general manager, said in November the board will be voting on two different resolutions for the solid waste division. One would deal with instituting the incentive recycling program and the second would be on the solid waste division’s budget. Greg Rabb, City Council president and BPU board member, said the response he has received from city residents has not been favorable toward the new program.

”I think it needs discussing a little more,” Rabb said.

Leathers said the feedback he has received has been 100 percent positive. He said there will probably be a rate increase for the solid waste division in 2014 without the new recycling program.

Jamestown City Mayor and BPU Board President Sam Teresi said he would like more financial information prior to next month’s meeting when it comes to what the budget will be for solid waste with the new recycling program and without it being implemented. He said he has not heard an extreme amount of outcry or support for the proposed program. However, he said he has heard the following questions: ”What if a homeowner’s new recycling container that keeps track of who recycles is stolen?” ”Will those who live in Florida during the winter be penalized for not recycling while away?” ”How much closer does the new program bring the BPU to single-stream or zero-sort recycling?” The mayor said board members should send their questions to BPU officials about the new program so they can learn more about it prior to voting on its implementation during next month’s meeting.

If the new recycling program is implemented, it could start as soon as March. The rate of recycling throughout the city is plastic at 38 percent, paper at 35 percent and glass at 19 percent.

The water division’s budget is being proposed to increase 6 percent in 2014. Mike Anderson, BPU business manager, said this is 2.5 percent higher than the planned rate increase. He said the additional increase accounts for the $120,000 being proposed to go toward the city’s general fund. In the 2013 city budget, a dividend payment of $120,000 was paid from BPU water revenues and $300,000 from electric. The BPU dividend payment helped to decrease a larger tax increase for city homeowners. The tax levy increased .8 percent for city residents in 2013. However, in the mayor’s executive tentative budget, the tax levy increase was proposed to be 6.4 percent. With the use of water and electric revenues, along with some other changes to the proposed budget, this year’s tax levy increase was lowered to under 1 percent.

Teresi has proposed the same dividend payment again from BPU water and electric revenues. For 2014, he has proposed $400,000 from electric and $75,000 from water revenues. The City Council is now working on a budget that has a passage deadline of Dec. 1. The 2014 tentative budget has a proposed 2.68 percent tax increase.

The wastewater budget is also being proposed to increase 6 percent. Leathers said BPU officials will continue to look at the numbers to see if the proposed increase can be reduced or eliminated for 2014.

The district heat budget proposed no rate increase for customers next year.

These budgets will be discussed more next month during the BPU board meeting on Nov. 19. Also, the electric division’s budget will be released during this meeting as well.