Wilmore City Council discusses budget, sanitation services

Published 3:16 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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During a Monday meeting, the Wilmore City Council discussed its 2023-24 fiscal year budget.

Because the budget will not be finalized until June, no decisions were made during the meeting.

The Council first discussed increasing water and sewer tax rates.

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Most years, the Council raised its water and sewer rates by two percent and considered increasing the rate again to help pay for water and sewer maintenance projects. However, the city’s Utilities

Director, Dave Carlstedt, told the Council that increasing rates by five percent still would not be nearly enough to pay for projects.
Carlstedt said that the water and sewer rates only pay for operations and overhead for managing water and sewer facilities. Tap fees partially fund projects, but more is needed to pay for them entirely.

The issue will be revisited with further discussion at the next meeting.

The Council then discussed increasing garbage rates.

For now, the city has its own trash collection service. Wilmore residents pay about $14 a month for service.

The Council would like to look elsewhere for different options.

Council member Jim Brumfield said, “It appears to me that it would be in our best interest to look at outsourcing the garbage (service).”

Carlstedt responded to Brumfield and the Council, stating that the city is “headed there regardless. Whether you do it now or long-term.”

As Utilities Director, Carlstedt listed several issues with the service over the past few years.

Eight years ago, the city purchased a brand-new garbage truck, which was considered top-of-the-line when it was first purchased but has had many expensive maintenance issues since then.

Wilmore also does not have access to landfills, so its waste is outsourced to landfills in Lexington, which has caused hefty prices for the city.

Carlstedt also said that staffing issues have been a massive problem for the waste management department and that it’s a “tremendous job’ getting anyone to apply.

“It’s getting harder and harder, and it’s been a wonderful service to provide all these decades, but we’re never going be the best in the business,” Carlstedt said.

The city is left with $170,000 in waste costs from the current fiscal year.

“It’s a morale buster,” Carlstedt said.

Although the Council does not have time to find a contractor to release waste management service responsibilities before the 2023-24 fiscal year budget is complete but did brainstorm on how they could go about the switch.

Two options are on the table.

One is that the Jessamine County Fiscal Court is officially in charge of all waste management in the county. The Council may be able to speak to Jessamine County Judge-Executive David West to be included in the county’s waste management contract for the upcoming fiscal year.

The other option is that Council would have to go through the request for proposal process to find a company willing to provide its services, which is a process that could take six to 12 months.

The Council and Wilmore administration will check in with Judge West on their inquiry and the discussion will proceed in the next meeting.
Regardless of any change, Council member Kim Dyer said the Council should stay transparent with city residents on whatever rate changes may occur.