Smithfield eyes monthly trash fee

Published 7:45 pm Wednesday, June 3, 2020

By Stephen Faleski

Staff Writer

The Town of Smithfield plans to enact a monthly $9.70 fee for trash pickup beginning July 1 — the first day of the town’s 2020-2021 fiscal year.

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According to a memorandum Town Treasurer Ellen Minga sent to Smithfield’s Town Council on Monday, the $9.70 fee would bring in just over $350,000 a year. This fee could be reduced to just over $6 if the town were to stop offering recycling to its residents.

“We have contacted our service provider regarding the possibility of amending our contract to eliminate recycling,” Minga writes. “They are agreeable to the discussion considering the market decline for recyclables.”

Town Manager Michael Stallings said the proposed fee would help make up for the town’s anticipated shortfall in revenue due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minga had forecast in April that the town should expect to lose about $300,000, mostly in meals tax revenue, during the first quarter of fiscal year 2020-2021, which will begin on July 1.

Currently, the town contracts with Bay Disposal to offer trash pickup and recycling, with the cost of each service being factored into the taxes that Smithfield residents already pay. According to Stallings, should Smithfield’s Town Council vote to do away with recycling, residents and businesses that wish to continue recycling may be able to contract directly with Bay Disposal to continue the service, provided there was enough interest among residents to make it viable for the waste management company.

The town’s proposed general fund operating budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 totals just under $10 million, a 23% decrease from the $13 million budget Smithfield’s Town Council approved last year. The large decrease, according to Stallings, is more due to capital projects that were completed during the current fiscal year, and therefore don’t need to be budgeted for next year, rather than the projected COVID-19-related revenue losses.

While all town taxes are to remain at their current rates, water and sewer rates will both increase by 3.6% starting Jan. 1, 2021, which Minga’s memo indicated is to keep pace with inflation and other rising costs.

Minga’s proposed budget includes no salary increases for current employees and no new hires other than for positions that are currently vacant. Also included in the proposed budget is $966,862 for Phase 4 of the town’s Pinewood Heights redevelopment project, $135,720 to convert the town’s accounting software to MUNIS — a software package used by Isle of Wight County and the town of Windsor — and $130,000 for costs related to the town’s portion of the multi-use park-to-park trail. The bulk of the money budgeted for the park-to-park trail will come from Virginia Department of Transportation funds, Minga said. Stallings added that some of these funds will cover engineering work to help the Town Council members decide how they want to move forward with the project.

There is also just over $1.2 million budgeted for the town’s highway fund. This utilizes the street maintenance allowance granted by VDOT for the maintenance of town streets, bridges and rights-of-way. However, Stallings was uncertain how much of this money would be allocated for the repaving of Main Street, or if this project would be completed during the coming fiscal year.

No one spoke during the Town Council’s public hearing on the proposed budget, which was held Tuesday evening. The Council anticipates voting on the budget at a follow-up meeting on June 9.