Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Mariemont might halve
garbage collection

By Steve Kemme
Enquirer staff writer

MARIEMONT - As village officials look for ways to cut costs, residents might have to adjust to having their trash picked up once a week instead of twice a week.

Mariemont residents have enjoyed a twice-a-week trash collection for decades. It's a hallmark of the high level of services offered by the village.

But it could end at the beginning of next year.

Village Council is considering contracting with Rumpke for once-a-week trash pickup beginning Jan. 1. Once-a-week pickup would cost Mariemont $234,600 a year, a savings of $51,000.

The village's budget has been squeezed by rising operating costs, declining inheritance tax revenue and large projects such as the recently completed improvements on Mariemont Square and the village swimming club as well as the future construction of a new maintenance building.

"Our general fund is going to start slipping," Mayor Dan Policastro said. "We're in good shape now. But if we keep going down this road, we'll have somewhat of a deficit in five years."

The village usually receives at least $250,000 a year in inheritance tax revenue. But changes in state tax laws and other circumstances have driven the total down to $190,000 this year, Policastro said.

"We can't really rely on that revenue," he said.

At this week's Village Council meeting, most council members spoke favorably of giving strong consideration to once-a-week trash pickup. Council might cast the deciding vote on this issue at its Nov. 22 meeting.

Molly and Sean Smyth have lived in Mariemont for two years. Molly Smyth said that before their son, Christopher, was born nine weeks ago, she wouldn't have cared if the trash were picked up only once a week.

"But now that I have a baby, I have lots of dirty diapers," she said. "I really like having trash pickup twice a week."

Don Gurney,a 36-year Mariemont resident, said that with only him and his wife, Nancy, in the house, once-a-week trash collection would be sufficient.

"We use it now only once a week," he said. "I'm not against the village cutting costs."

Policastro said that reducing spending would help postpone the need to ask voters for an operating levy increase. The village operating levy hasn't risen in 13 years.

"We've been very frugal," Policastro said. "But in two or three years, we're going to have to go for an operating levy increase. In the meantime, we need to cut costs."

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