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BPU OKs Budgets With No Rate Increases

The 2021 solid waste and district heating budgets for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities were both approved with no increase in rates for customers.

On Monday, David Leathers, BPU general manager, told the board during its regular monthly meeting that BPU officials are still planning for a citywide container capital investment program next year, which the board will vote on during the first quarter of 2021.

Last month when the draft budget for the solid waste division was discussed by BPU officials, Leathers said the program will be similar to when the BPU started the recycling credit program in March 2014, which is when orange recycling bins were issued to customers. He added that each customer will be issued a 95-gallon garbage can, which will include a lid. Leathers said customers will be to apply to be issued a 35-gallon instead of a 95-gallon if they want a smaller can.

Leathers said anyone wanting a second garbage can will be charged. He said if a customer is negligence with the garbage can and it needs to be replaced there will be a $60 charge and a $20 fee for repairs. He added that if a can needs to be replaced or repaired because of normal wear and tear, the customer will not be charged.

On Monday, Leathers said there has been a change since last month on a possible penalty for customers who put their garbage out before the 6 p.m. start time or leave their empty can outside for several days. Last month, he said customers who do this will be fined $25. On Monday, he said the proposal has been changed to customer possibly could be fined if they abuse the policy.

Kelly Hawkins, BPU finance and customer accounts manager, presented the draft budgets for the wastewater and water divisions. She said, as of now, the BPU staff is recommending a 2% increase in wastewater rates. She added there are a number of factors for the possible rate increase, which includes a new union contract that will raise salaries, health care costs and capital project spending planned for 2021 and 2022.

Leathers also said rates may increase because BPU officials have replaced more than a thousand water meters, with the cost being split between the wastewater and water division. He said in the last 10 years, there has only been one other rate increase in the wastewater division.

Hawkins said there is no proposed rate increase for the water division. Leathers said the board is slated to vote on the final wastewater and water budgets at the November meeting.

In other business, the board agreed to a new contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 106.

Leathers said the new agreement is a four-year contract that will start Jan. 1, 2021, and end Dec. 31, 2024. He said the union consist of wastewater plant employees.

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