The World Is Fast Inflating Around Us
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The decision by city officials in last week’s monthly meeting to raise the cost of electricity wasn’t made lightly. In a time when the price of everything continues to rise, even a small increase on electricity can be a hardship for some electric department customers.
During the discussion, City Attorney Daniel Martin noted that it seems like the rest of the world is inflating faster than Water Valley. Daniel speculated that there will be a lag time before the income for many residents increases proportionately.
“That is why I believe our citizens are getting hit so hard,” Daniel speculated.
His comments sure seemed to hit home for me. I know in the newspaper business, the ever-increasing cost of newsprint and postage has been a huge strain for us. After almost a decade with no increase in subscription rates, we had to go up in August, 2021 after our printer, the Tupelo Daily Journal, increased our bill 22.5 percent. We have been trying hard to hold the cost for our subscribers since our 2021 increase, but at some point we will be forced to implement another increase for subscribers to remain in business. We’re not alone – restaurants are battling high food costs, vehicles cost more than ever, the list is endless.
But back to the city meeting, Mayor Donald Gray shared that keeping the electric department in the black isn’t the only challenge. A recent review of the expenses and revenue by the ladies in city hall show a tough road ahead for the garbage department.
“We are getting upside down fast in that department,” Gray told aldermen.
Even with the recent 15 percent rate increase for garbage pickup for both residential and commercial customers, Gray said that covering the city’s cost for garbage pickup will be tough. The city is in dire need of a new garbage truck at an estimated cost of over $200,000.
“We simply can’t do that,” Gray said about the purchase. The city operates three garbage trucks, the newest a 2019 model, and spends a lot of money on maintenance to keep a 2006 model and a 2013 model going. Last month, the repair bill was over $4,000.
“We see that just about every month,” Alderman-at-Large Herbie Rogers added about the monthly costs to keep the two older trucks on the road.
Gray also said the city struggles to keep drivers employed to run the garbage routes. He recommended exploring the cost of out-sourcing garbage pickup in the city. This would entail putting the service out for bid to see what companies like Waste Management would charge for the service, similar to how it works in the county.
Following a lengthy discussion, aldermen voted unanimously to put together a proposal that will allow the city to seek bids for curbside garbage pickup in the city. Again, this is just a fact-finding mission to see what options are out there.
“I don’t want to do this, but I think we have to look at it. We would be remiss if we didn’t look at what a private company could do it for versus what it is costing us,” Gray stressed. “We owe it to our citizens.”