By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Those hoping to let Quincy officials know what they think about proposals to privatize the city's garbage and recycling collection will have two opportunities this week.
The city is hosting public hearings at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the St. Peter Catholic Church cafeteria, 2600 Maine, and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Quincy Public Library, 526 Jersey.
City officials will provide a brief presentation on the proposals before fielding comments from those in attendance.
"I'm looking forward to a good discussion, and we're going to try and let people know this is where our financial situation is at and these are some of the options that we have," said Mayor Kyle Moore.
Moore outlined three proposals to privatize service, with his preferred option an unnamed company that would provide automated service at $13.20 a month per household.
He said he hoped to meet with the aldermen the following week about the proposals before bringing any proposals for a vote.
"At the end of the day, we want to make sure the proposal that goes forward reflects what our constituents want to be in the program," he said.
The city is looking at a budget gap of nearly $1 million this year and averaging $850,000 over the last three years to provide the service.
"I think when you look at our projected budget figures, if the revenues continue to stay the same, that would be a long way to close that gap," he said.
Moore said that the general fund, even assuming an annual 2 percent growth in revenue, could have a deficit of more than $15 million and up to $22 million if the increase in revenue is smaller.
"At the end of the day, making decision at budget time will be easier," he said. "If we fail to act now, that means we are going to have a lot of difficult decisions to make at budget time."
The city's general fund supports the $1.6 million garbage and recycling collection program, which is projected at nearly $1 million this year. About $625,000 is raised annually from 50-cent trash stickers.
Moore said he has received quite a few calls from residents.
"Most understand that some decision is needed and understand why we are bringing this to the forefront now," he said. "I've had about half being in favor of one of the private plans."
Others have asked that the city look at other plans that wouldn't hit senior citizens on fixed incomes hard, and some have voiced opinions against any changes to the current system.