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Cut in garbage fee on council agenda

The Urban County Council will consider the mayor's recommendation for reducing garbage collection fees. The council voted 9-5 Tuesday to put the measure on Thursday night's docket for first reading.

On Aug. 18, Mayor Jim Newberry proposed reducing Lexington's garbage collection fee by 10 percent this year and 10 percent next year.

The cuts would be possible in part because of improvements the city plans to make over the next year, the mayor said.

Several council members expressed reluctance to cut the tax until the improvements actually happen.

"What's wrong with waiting till next year till we see the savings?" Councilman Tom Blues asked.

Newberry said the city will use computerized global tracking to plan efficient routes for garbage trucks, thereby saving fuel.

Also, the city's waste management department will go to "single stream garbage collection," which means one truck can pick up both garbage and recyclables.

And with new sorting equipment on order for the Thompson Road recycling center, items can be more efficiently separated. Cheryl Taylor, commissioner of environmental quality, said the city sends to the landfill many materials that can be sold for recycling. "We have a lot of opportunity to dramatically increase our recycling revenue," she said.

Taylor recommended spending the waste management department's $24 million surplus to buy the trucks and sorting equipment.

For all those reasons, Newberry said, he didn't have "any heartburn whatsoever over this first 10 percent" reduction.

Councilwoman Linda Gorton said the $24 million was saved to build a new recycling center and should not be used for the equipment. Taylor recommended using bonds to finance the center.

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