PIEDMONT — City residents could soon see higher garbage collection bills, city leaders discussed on Tuesday.
Mayor Bill Baker said EC Waste, the company that collects garbage for Piedmont, plans to raise its rates March 1 and that the city would likely need to pass that cost on to residents.
The Piedmont City Council took no action during its meeting Tuesday, but agreed to consider at its next meeting possible rate increases for residents.
The company plans to raise its city rate to $27.84 per ton, about $2.60 higher than what it currently charges. The company collects an average of 30 tons of garbage a week in Piedmont.
Residents are currently charged $16 a month for garbage pickup.
Baker said that, with the city’s tight budget this year, absorbing the rate jump seems unlikely.
“The city has already been absorbing a lot of the expenses … we can’t absorb all the expenses that come along,” Baker said. “The feeling is we’re going to have to increase something.”
During its work session before the meeting, the council heard Joan Young, interim president of the Fayette County Development Authority in Georgia, speak on ways the city could encourage economic development. Invited by Councilman Greg South, Young said she’d be willing to volunteer some of her time to help the city plan how to attract new business.
Young gave a few recommendations on how the council could help the city, from creating tax incentive packages to help small businesses open, to promoting recreational tourism.
“Your biggest asset is your quality of life,” Young said, referring to outdoor recreation in Piedmont such as is offered by the Chief Ladiga Trail. “There are people from Atlanta who would love to come out here and ride a bike.”
Young also recommended the city hire a part-time economic development consultant or reach out to experts at institutions such as Jacksonville State University to help promote Piedmont and attract business.
“I think it all starts with tourism … you get that and then that brings in small business,” Young said. “Once you have that, then you can start recruiting larger business.”
The council agreed to contact JSU and meet later to discuss economic development options.
Also during the meeting, council members talked with Piedmont police Chief Freddie Norton on what they could do to help prevent a possible school shooting in the city. The talk was sparked by the school shooting in Florida last week that ended in the deaths of 17 people.
Councilman Matt Rogers suggested the council hire a resource officer or two for the school system.
“I know we’re all thinking that a shooting is never going to happen here, but they were probably thinking the same thing three weeks ago,” Rogers said, referring to the Florida school.
Norton said he’d been in talks with the school system in recent weeks about active shooter preparedness and had another meeting in the near future. Norton said he’d talk with school officials about how they might want to partner with the city to better protect students.