The increasing cost of waste management was undoubtedly going to result in a hike in service fees in Little Rapids this year.
The only question left to decide at the local service district’s annual general meeting Monday night was by how much?
There wasn’t even much debate about that. The outgoing committee, which was reconstituted after an election later in the meeting, proposed two different budget scenarios to the residents in attendance.
The only difference between the two was whether there would be a $65 increase in service fees for both residents and businesses in Little Rapids for 2014, or if the increase would be $75.
The opinion of one resident who spoke up, namely that the $10 difference was hardly much of a difference at all, was the consensus of the 25 people assembled and the higher fee easily passed.
It was the first increase in service fees in Little Rapids since 2008. Residential properties will now pay a $375 annual fee.
The fee for businesses depends on the size and scope of the enterprise, but each will only pay $75 more than their bill in 2013.
The major reason for the need of the increase is that the cost for waste management is going up, just as it is in virtually every municipality across Newfoundland and Labrador this year. According to the budget proposed in Little Rapids, the local service district paid $10,335 for its waste contract last year. This year, Little Rapids has allocated $14,400 for the contract.
The waste contract represents about one-third of the entire budget of Little Rapids, which is valued at around $45,000.
Jason Spingle, who was re-elected to the community’s executive committee Monday night, is also a regional representative on the Western Regional Service Board — which is responsible for implementing sweeping changes to waste disposal.
Spingle, who was appointed in 2011, said he has not been invited to a meeting in over a year.
While it is still to be determined what will happen with the bigger picture of disposing of garbage from all over western Newfoundland at one main site, tipping fees have increased at the Wild Cove landfill where Little Rapids sends it waste right now.
“I have been told I will be kept abreast of anything that is going to happen and, as long as I am involved in that capacity, I will keep our committee and our community informed,” said Spingle.
Another reason why the higher service fee was approved by the folks of Little Rapids was that it will give the community a little more breathing room in its budget. While the budget is a slightly unbalanced one, with only a small surplus projected, there is a concerted effort being made to collect service fees from some residents and businesses that are in arrears.
As of the end of 2013, the local service district was owed $7,367 in unpaid fees. Some have since been collected, but the committee said Monday it may have to resort to taking legal action in small claims court to collect more of the outstanding money owed.
Besides Spingle, three other committee members were re-elected, including Lois Bateman, Kim Thistle and Eileen Parsons. Newly elected members included Vicki Pike, Kent Penney and Glenn Penney.
Two committee members who sought re-election were unsuccessful, including Shawn Leamon and Agnes Brake. The only other member of the outgoing committee, Ruth Pullin, declined a nomination to run again.
The committee members decide among themselves later on what positions they will take.