City garbage fees going up

Unfortunately, garbage is expensive — and it's about to become even more so for Big Spring residents.During their regular meeting Tuesday evening, the Big Spring City Council approved on first reading an ordinance that would increase sanitation collection fees by $3 a month for residential customers and $5 a month for businesses.Residential customers will now pay $15.50 a month for trash collection, while commercial customers will pay $18.50 under the new fee schedule, which was approved by a 6-1 vote by the council (District 1's Marcus Fernandez voted against the measure).This will be first increase in garbage collection fees for maintenance purposes since 2001, City Finance Director Peggy Walker said.The city is facing expenditures reaching into the millions as it expands the current landfill and works toward opening another in the coming year, which necessitated the fee increase.“We're about to open the east cell of the landfill, and just to open that cell will cost us almost $2 million,” Walker said. “And we'll get maybe seven years of life from that cell before we have to open a new landfill.”The city faces even more expenses connected to waste collection, she added.“Since the last rate increase, our fuel costs have increased by 187 percent … and salaries have increased by about 30 percent,” Walker noted. “In total, all expenses connected to waste collection have increased by 78 percent.”With those figures in mind — and knowing that opening a new landfill will represent another multi-million dollar outlay by the city — city council members, with the exception of Fernandez, went along with the increase.“A lot of people in my district are not happy with this decision, and I'm not either,” District 2 Council Member Carmen Harbour said. “But we haven't had an increase in a number of years and I think this is necessary and important.”