South Fayette residents may start paying for garbage pickup to free up funds for road improvements.
A recent roadway maintenance study prepared for the township by Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering Inc. was the catalyst to township staff finding a source of funds for a long-term capital improvement program in the proposed 2016 budget.
“One in every $4 generated in real estate taxes is applied to garbage pickup,” township manager Ryan Eggleston said. Shifting the expense to residents would free up about $750,000 that could be allotted to a dedicated road improvement fund and materials for public works in-house road improvements.
The “Pay for pickup, Pave the roads” idea was presented to commissioners at the Nov. 11 voting meeting. Under the plan, residents would be directly billed $53.73 quarterly by a third-party waste company. Services would include curbside pickup of garbage, recycling, and leaf and electronics pickup. Residents age 66 or older would continue to have their fees paid by the township. South Fayette has reserved $213,000 in the 2016 budget to cover those expenses.
One resident, Joe Lunn, pointed out that those on disability can’t continue to absorb additional costs imposed on residents.
Another audience member, Lisa Carney, was concerned about those who did not pay their bills. “What happens then? Does the trash just pile up?”
Mr. Eggleston said a number measures could be put in place to deal with situations such as nonpayment.
The roadway maintenance study included a field observation of the 65 roads in South Fayette. The current conditions and traffic volume were taken into account when rating each thoroughfare. The roads are broken down into three categories: collector, neighborhood and local. Collector covers the most traveled arteries needing major maintenance every eight to 10 years. Neighborhood covers developments and densely populated areas that need attention every 15 to 20 years. Local roads are rural and tend to need major maintenance every 30 years.
Six roads were rated the worst in the report: Bowman, Cecil Reising, Cecil Sturgeon, Reising, Rigerts Hill and Sunset Lane.
The engineers estimated the costs of repair and upgrade per road. Those amounts ranged from $5,000 to more than $500,000. Collectively, the price tag is over $32 million. LSSE presented four funding options that would spread over the years. The township is considering a plan that would budget $650,000 in the 2016 budget.
Mr. Eggleston said shifting the garbage costs to residents would eliminate an increase in the real estate tax rate, which is currently at 3.4 mills. Since 2001, the township has reduced the property tax rate from 4.045 mills to 3.48 mills.
Currently, there is no annual dedicated funding for the road pavement program. Commissioners are set to vote on the 2016 budget in December.
If the commissioners decide to provide funding for road improvements, the budget approval would reflect the new line item for a road repair program, and the garbage pickup line item would include only an amount for senior citizens. The board would have to go through the process to modify the existing garbage ordinance as well.
Amy Philips-Haller, freelance writer: email@example.com