New, increased fees help balance budget

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, April 2, 2009

While Suffolk residents might be celebrating the fact that the property tax rate isn’t going up, they’ll be paying more for water and sewer service, bulk refuse collection and some facility rentals if the city budget remains in its current form.

The fees are necessary to balance a budget that faced a $9.3 million gap, Budget Officer Anne Seward said during a presentation at a City Council work session Wednesday. Revenues are projected to decline $7 million from last year, because of dwindling sales taxes, business licenses and recordation taxes, as well as a loss in valuation of personal property and decreasing interest on investments. Meanwhile, the city’s service requirements will go up by $2.3 million because of new operational costs, debt payment and other responsibilities.

Bulk refuse collection service, which was previously free, now will cost residents $20 for up to eight cubic yards of material, and $50 for nine to 16 cubic yards of material. The new fees are expected to bring in about $616,000, Seward said.

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In addition, the city is eliminating the late trash pick-up service, which it also used to provide for free to residents who forgot to put their trash out by the scheduled time. This move should save the city about $33,000, Seward predicts.

“We simply don’t have the luxury of funds to continue this service,” she told council members.

Suffolk residents also will see rising utility costs after July 1. The cost for water will rise more than a dollar – to $4.94 from $3.92 per 100 cubic feet. Sewer service will cost $3.78 now, up from $2.88.

Some non-profit organizations also will feel the results of the budget shortfall. Suffolk is repealing a policy that used to allow non-profits to use city facilities at no charge once per year. The new resolution should save the city about $29,000, Seward said. The cost of facility rentals varies depending on the facility, length of time and amenities.

A public hearing on the budget will be held April 15. The budget document is available for review online at In addition, it may be reviewed in person at the municipal building, city libraries, fire stations, the Chamber of Commerce, Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Suffolk Executive Airport and the Crittenden Sunoco station.