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Lexington council cuts garbage tax

Lexington's Urban County Council voted Thursday night to trim the city garbage tax by 10 percent.

The Council voted 12-2 for the reduction, with Andrea James and Diane Lawless opposed. Councilwoman Linda Gorton was absent.

Lawless and James have said they believe it would be irresponsible to reduce revenue based on projected savings.

Environmental quality commissioner Cheryl Taylor said the city will be able to cut expenses by picking up garbage more efficiently.

Plus, with new sorting equipment on order for the Thompson Road recycling center, more items can be separated and sold, increasing recycling revenue.

The reduction will affect tax bills that go out this year to 89,000 property owners. Those with private trash collection will not be affected.

On a $150,000 house, the savings will amount to about $24 a year.

Also Thursday, council members reversed themselves and voted to accept a proposed settlement in a natural-gas rate case.

Apparently caught by surprise at Tuesday's work session, members voted 7-6 not to take an official vote at Thursday night's meeting on a settlement reached by Columbia Gas of Kentucky and the state attorney general.

The proposed settlement would cut the company's rate increase by more than $5 million — almost half of what it requested from the state Public Service Commission.

The company also agreed to withdraw a request to raise its basic monthly customer charge from $9.30 to $26.53 over the next two years.

Thursday night's vote was unanimous in favor of accepting the proposed settlement.

"There were a lot of phone calls on Wednesday to council members who are interested in low-income programs to explain it to them," said Jack Burch, executive director of the Community Action Council, one of several groups that intervened in the case.

Other intervening parties included the city of Lexington, several gas companies and groups like AARP, Burch said.

The PSC cannot consider settlements unless all the parties agree.

The commission will hold a hearing on the settlement at 11 a.m. Friday in Frankfort.