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02/15/2018 Our Voice

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All users should pay for increase

“If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander.”

There’s a lot of “trash” talk echoing through the streets, and most of it isn’t cordial.

Justifiably so, especially if you are a business owner within the city limits who recently peered at their most recent garbage bill from Waste Management. Those bills show a significant increase for “franchise fees,” implemented by the city of Dunnellon.

Franchise fees aren’t new, most municipalities and county governments favor them as a way of generating revenue. There’s no denying a new contract for waste services has been long overdue, but to pin a first time 15 percent “franchise fee” and an increase in rates on commercial accounts at the same time just stinks.

The city’s approach on this was wrong, touting the benefits of a cost-savings for residential users in a much-ballyhooed letter in utility bills. Officials did little to forewarn commercial account holders, who learned of their significant increases via sticker shock.

The problem here is how officials opted to “spread” out the increase among just commercial waste users, i.e., business owners. Why not residents, too? After all, residents use the services too and there are more residential accounts than commercial accounts. The $1.01 reduction in rates barely covers the cost of a couple of garbage bags.

While chain stores can write a check without batting an eye, it’s not so simple for the mom-and-pop businesses throughout the city to do that without it being another bitter pill to swallow. Factor in higher property taxes than residents, a newly implemented fire assessment fee and higher utility taxes on their electric bills, and now this, what’s a small business owner to do?

They’ll likely reduce their services, make small cuts where they can to compensate for the increases, perhaps reduce the hours of an employee or two, it’s what businesses do when costs continue to increase.

Officials need to revisit the contract, and include all who use the service or reduce the fees in the “franchise agreement.”