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City delays budget talks over garbage
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Gainesville officials are holding off on a discussion of next year’s budget for its trash collection service until they gather more information about its future.

Public Works Director David Dockery was scheduled to discuss the Solid Waste Division’s spending plan Wednesday as part of his department’s budget proposal to the City Council.

Instead, the director asked to postpone the discussion until April 29, “because of the fact that there’s so much flux with our decisions on Solid Waste.”

City officials are still trying to decide the future of residents’ garbage collection service. Currently, the city government collects the garbage of about 5,700 households at a cost of about $2 million.

Between July 2008 and June 2009, revenues from the service fell short of its costs by about $170,000, according to a report posted on the city’s website.

City officials, for some time, have been looking to make the service pay for itself without using tax dollars reserved for general government business such as fire and police protection.

At the beginning of the current fiscal year, the City Council raised fees for the service. Still, the Solid Waste Division needed to use some of the department’s reserves to keep the trash trucks on the road.

This year, as revenues are at a low, city officials are considering a number of different options, including privatization and cutting the service to a once-a-week, curbside pickup.

Currently, the division is providing a once-weekly backyard pickup as part of an eight-week pilot program.

With so many unknowns, Dockery asked the council Wednesday to give his department some more time to “look at the numbers ,spend a little bit more time with it.”

Dockery did, however, discuss budget proposals of seven other divisions of his department — including traffic engineering and street maintenance — most of which showed smaller expectations for spending in the fiscal year to come.

The next fiscal year begins July 1. The City Council must make a decision on all the city department’s budgets by the end of June.