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Columbus City Council Questions Elimination Of Trash Fee

Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown proposed a plan to eliminate the city's trash fee, but city council members are questioning some details of the plan.

Columbus City Hall

Photo: Indiana Public Media News

The Columbus city council and the mayor both say residents have supported an elimination of the trash fee.

Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown presented the city council with a proposal Tuesday to eliminate trash fees. But some city council members say the plan is not feasible and does not account for changes that could be made to the city’s recycling services in the near future.

The city of Columbus collects $930,000 each year from trash fees. Mayor Brown says her plan will make up for that money by cutting back in other areas. The proposal would cut almost all city department budgets by 10 percent and would cut back on fuel allocations to other departments. It would also use $135,000 the city had set aside for a sports complex that has since been cancelled.

“We just trim back. No personnel is proposed, we’re not cutting back any capital expenditures, but really supplies, professional services, travel, that sort of thing,” Brown says.

But city councilman Frank Miller says the city should not act just yet. A newly formed recycling committee is meeting at the end of the month to discuss adding a recycling service. Miller says that service could come at a cost. He says it wouldn’t make sense to eliminate the trash fee now and add a recycling fee later on.

“So we’re not doing justice in repealing the trash fee until we’ve examined the entire household waste stream,” Miller says.

Other council members said the budget cuts may not be as large as they seem. At the end of each year, departments are encouraged to return unspent money to the city even though it may have been included in the original budget. So cutting the budget on paper may not actually save the city any money.

The city council is gathering more information the proposal and plans to take up the issue again at its next meeting.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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