MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the final Memphis City Council meeting of the year Tuesday, members signed off on several MLGW rate increases.
The more than six-hour long city council meeting ended with an increase to residents’ solid waste fees and gas and water rates.
Two weeks ago, the council struck down any trash pickup rate increases. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland then said because of this, nearly 200 sanitation workers and 75 temporary workers would lose their jobs. He also said services would be significantly cut.
That news forced the council to reverse course. They pulled the issue off the minutes before they were approved, re-voted and signed off on an increase.
“The council voted loud and clear,” said Al Lamar, director of solid waste for the City of Memphis. “They expect us to deliver a really high level, great service to the city of Memphis.”
The solid waste fee will increase to $7.16 per bill.
Lamar said based on a budget overlooked for years in order to continue service, modernize the fleet and build a transfer station, this increase had to happen.
“I looked at every available option on the table,” Lamar said. “This was the best mix for allowing us to move forward with the service.”
It’s no secret MLGW has been asking for a rate hike. Time after time, city council has shot down their proposals. MLGW said they are in dire need for system updates, along with more tree trimming.
MLGW got part of what they asked for with increases in water and gas rates.
The water increase won’t start until July, and it will be part of your August payment.
That’s $2.33 for the average customer.
As for gas, MLGW’s CEO said you won’t see that increase until 2022. That’s 74 cents for the average customer.
“That will address the infrastructure challenges that we have,” MLGW CEO J.T. Young said. “We made this plan assuming that there is no devastating storm that comes in and wipes everything out.”
MLGW is still working to hopefully convince a new city council for an electric rte increase, which they say is crucial.
“We are going back, re-looking at the numbers, re-looking at our opportunities and our options,” Young said.
Young said he hopes to speak to the new council on Jan. 7 about why an electric rate increase is needed.