Pending a new ordinance being drawn and instituted, Cherokee residents will see a $2 per month increase in their garbage rates in the near future.
At their meeting on October 28th, the Cherokee City Council approved the $2 per month hike after hearing from Sanitary Services, which is contracted by the City for its municipal garbage collection.
Eric Lundell of Sanitary Services explained to the Council that the last rate increase for garbage collection in Cherokee was in 2005. Currently, Sanitary Services charges residents $8.85 per month and the City adds 35-cents for administrative fees (billing) for a total of $9.20.
That number will go to $11.20 following the Council's final passage of the proposed new ordinance to be drawn by City Attorney Wally Miller, Jr.
In addition to the $11.20 billed, the City also pays a $6 per month for each household for a landfill usage fee.
Lundell cited increased costs over the past three years leading Sanitary Services to request the rate hike, including soaring fuel prices, insurance costs, labor costs, and maintenance of equipment.
"That $4.50 to $4.60 per gallon for gas for so long a time really put the pinch on us," explained Lundell, while noting that fuel prices have finally started to drop, but other expenses continue to climb.
Lundell said Sanitary Services averages 1,980 pick-ups per month in Cherokee.
In other business, the Council approved an agreement for a water rate increase effective December 1 for Tyson Foods. Tyson now pays 42-cents per gallon and has paid that amount since the last rate hike in 1990. The new Tyson rate is $1.25 per gallon, which Tyson has agreed to.
Tyson Foods used 115,645,000 gallons of City water in Fiscal Year (July through June)2007/2008.
The Council also agreed to pursue Tim and Kelly Carlson's request to de-annex from the City. The Carlson's live just east of the Little Sioux River on the east edge of Cherokee and receive no City sewer or water.
The Council approved authorizing City Attorney Miller to draw up the required legal documentation to allow the Carlson's to secede from the City. The matter will return to the Council agenda after the proper paperwork is completed.
The Council spent consierable time discussing the proposed demolition of a dilapidated house at 324 E. Main St. that the City now owns. That demolition project carries a $4,730 price tag after Schoon Construction of Cherokee turned in the lone bid for the work. It would also cost the City another $2,000 to $4,000 for landfill fees for the demolished materials.
While agreeing that such blighted areas need to be removed throughout the City, the Council was in a quandry as to how to pay for it, as there are no special funds budgeted for such issues.
The eventual motion to approve the demolition project failed and the matter will be addressed at a later date if a funding source can be worked out. The Council also spoke of starting such a fund in the next budgeting sessions.
The Council also gave tentative approval of the Community Center's beer/wine license to The Gathering Place for the annual Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival January 2, 3, 4, 2009. The license has been transferred for past Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festivals.
However, Council member Linda Burkhart questioned where the profits went from such beer/wine revenues. "Do we charge them for use of the license?" asked Burkhart. "Where do the profits go? To the Jazz Fest or the Gathering Place?"
The unanimous approval for the license transfer remains tentative while interim City Manager Don Eikmeier investigates the matter and reports back to the Council.