Ed Smith, the new La Cygne City Council member took his seat on the council during the Wednesday, Jan, 17, session. Elected on a write-in ballot in November, Smith replaces two-term Council Member Danny Curtis. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
By Roger Sims, firstname.lastname@example.org
LA CYGNE – La Cygne residents who take part in the city’s trash collection program will be paying a dollar more per month under a new contract with Waste Management of Kansas Inc.
The city council learned on Wednesday, Jan. 17, that the current contract with the trash collection service was to end on Jan. 31.
The council also learned that the city dodged a spike in natural gas prices during the frigid four-day weekend that ended Monday with Martin Luther King Day that saw temperatures across the region dip below zero.
Under the new trash agreement, the company is dropping the service that allowed residents to use their own containers, including plastic bags, set out at the curb. Under the new agreement, all residents will be supplied with the carts that Waste Management provides for a cost of $21.57 a month, up from the previous rate of $20.57. Residents who used their own containers were paying $17.57 per month.
Also under the new contract, residents that use two carts will be paying $10 a month for the second cart, up from the previous charge of $3 monthly.
John Blessing, a representative from the Waste Management office in Louisburg, told the council that some of the services had been underpriced and should have been increased before now.
Councilman Thomas Capp told Blessing that the price increase on the second cart would likely mean that some residents would drop that option. He also suggested that a letter be sent out to residents using that service.
The council voted unanimously to approve the new Waste Management contract. Earlier in the month City Clerk Jodi Wade told the council that there wasn’t much choice in finding trash haulers who were willing to serve the city.
Wade also notified the council that during the brutal cold snap over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, natural gas prices by the city’s supplier spiked to about $25 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). However, last year the council on a split vote joined in a consortium of natural gas customers that pay based on a monthly basis instead of a daily rate.
Because of that arrangement, the price for natural gas for the month stayed at about $5 per mcf despite the cold snap. Wade said that systemwide, except for a minor problem in Oklahoma, gas supplies held up during the winter storm.
She said the supplier only notified the city of an alert level, and not a need to raise it to a "need to conserve" level. Wade also told the council that a bond on the city's gas system was paid off last year, and she would be taking a look at that budget in the near future.
Public Works Superintendent reported that the cold weather caused minor freezing in the city’s shop. He also said that failure of the heaters in the water salesman caused it to freeze.
New Council Member Ed Smith took his seat during the meeting and the workshop on the city’s storm water runoff discussion for the hour during the regular meeting. Smith was elected to the council on a write-in ballot in November, and he has been attending many of the council meetings since the election.
Smith, who replaces Danny Curtis on the council, was sworn in earlier in the month when he dropped by City Hall. So were Mayor Debra Wilson and Council Member Jerome Mitzner, both of whom were re-elected to their posts.
Capp was elected council president, and will assume the task of running council meetings if Wilson is unable to attend.
As part of a bid to streamline the council’s work load, Wilson suggested that the number of council committees be trimmed from seven committees down to five with each council member serving on two committees each.
The committees would be Utilities (combining the current Water and Gas and separate Sewer committees), City Facilities (combining the Park, Cemetery, and Community Building committees), while retaining the Street, Public Safety, and Employee Relations committees.
She asked the council members to send her their choices as to the committees they wanted to serve on.
The council also discussed the fate of the residence at 528 N. Sixth St. The double-wide home at that address is partly on city property and for months the city has been trying to get the owners to move it. The city had allowed an older couple who lived in the home to not move it until they both no longer lived there, but with both of those people now deceased, the city has repeatedly contacted heirs about moving it.
City Attorney Burton Harding said that while he and Codes Officer Devin Canada have notified them and the city has the right to move the structure, it would be better to file for a court injunction instructing the current owners to move the structure. At the Jan. 3 meeting, Canada said the owner asked to address the council during January but had not done so.
Council Member Mitzner said the city had given the owners more than enough time to take the required action and made a motion to file an injunction on Feb. 15 and send a letter to the owner that the city was taking that next step.