At the monthly August Macon City Council Meeting (August 14th), the Macon City Council by a unanimous vote (7-0), decided that after 38 years of the city footing the bill, it’s time for Macon Residents to pay for their trash removal. This decision will impact a little over 2,000 residents. Commercially, businesses around town already pay for their trash pickup, this decision is only dealing with residential removal. Residents considered under residential pick-up, will see a line item on their monthly utility bill where $7.97 will be added for trash removal starting in November 2018. This cost is per month. This decision is mandatory and there is no “opt out” option. Both during the meeting and after the meeting, multiple councilman cited that when the city decided to pay for trash removal back in the 1980’s, the city had their own trash dump and things were considerably cheaper; furthermore, they cited their decision based on inflation and gas increases. “You have to consider that back in the 80’s the city saved a lot of money by dealing with their own waste and trash. With gas prices on the rise, inflation impacting everything nowadays, and Advanced Disposal contracting with the city regarding trash removal, the city can’t pay for this anymore. Everywhere we look, we are short money,” stated Councilman Kinkhorst.

Currently the city is spending roughly $200,000 per year in trash removal; previous years, the city was paying a quarter of a million dollars for trash removal (able to negotiate a lower deal recently). Prior to the decision made on August 14th, the city was using money out of the general revenue to foot the bill. Within the general revenue/fund, in 1980, the citizens of Macon voted and approved of a one percent sales tax. According to legal documents and records handed over by the City Clerk, on Tuesday August 5th, 1980, residents living within the city limits of Macon, Missouri, voted on the ordinance of imposing the proposed one percent sales tax. The ballot initiative passed with 1659 citizens voting in favor and 445 voting against. The legal ballot language of the proposed sales tax was, “Shall the City of Macon, Missouri, impose a city sales tax of one percent?” With the legal ballot language, the City of Macon is not legally bound to spending the tax revenue of the sales tax approved in 1980, in a certain way or in a specific area within local city government. The Chronicle Herald reported in the summer of 1980 ahead of the vote in August that the Macon City Council was “promising” free residential trash pickup and a cut in property tax if voters approved of the penny sales tax. Also reported in the paper back in 1980, the Macon City Council appointed a committee comprised of private citizens, one person from each of the four wards, with one job to do: to “sell” the proposed sales tax to voters to make sure it would pass in August – the citizen committee sold the proposed sales tax on lower property taxes, free residential trash pickup, and Mayor Hamilton at the time, said that citizens could see a reduction in their utility bill if the sales tax passed in August of 1980. One month before the 1980 August vote, the Macon City Council at their monthly meeting, solidified their promise by a council vote stating that they would keep the promises made by the citizens committee to the voters; those promises being again, that they would implement free residential trash removal and lower the property tax by 20%. With the ballot language already drawn up, the promises made back in 1980 had no legal binding to the vote later that year – they were simply promises, hand-shake agreements, or better known as a “gentlemen’s agreement” that the city council at the time, in good business, was expected to keep and make right of what they promised to voters ahead of the vote, if they approved of the sales tax.

Furthermore, pursuant (in accordance) to Macon City Ordinance No. 355M Section 3, the City of Macon is authorized to fix and collect a service charge for said solid waste management services (trash removal) from residents. {The city ordinance stated above, was adopted on July 1st of 1974}

The sales tax of 1980 is simply a sales tax. It has no legal binding with trash removal. The line item that Macon residents will see on their monthly utility bill starting in November of 2018, the amount of $7.97 is a service charge for trash removal; it is not a tax or tax related. A service charge and a tax are two very different things. Trash removal is simply a service charge and the City of Macon is constitutionally allowed to collect the fee. Further to note, it is important to realize that the City of Macon will not make money off this move. They still have a contract to fulfill with Advance Disposal with the total cost being a little over $200,000 annually for trash removal. With this decision, the Macon City Council is no longer having to cut a check from the general fund – they will now be using the exact amount of the service fees collected from residents, to pay the contractor.

--- In the 1970s, Mayor Kisor of Macon, signed a Solid Waste Resolution recognizing that waste management and storage was a county-wide program and that it was no longer economically feasible for each city to focus on it by themselves. This brought up the idea of contracting out the service ---

In conclusion, the 1980s Sales Tax is still in place to this day and brings a chunk of revenue into the general fund of the city. The current City Council of Macon with their decision, have hopes of keeping more of that sales tax that was passed long ago and would like to use the funds toward much needed street repairs, sidewalks, sewer projects, fill the lack of employment in several departments, and to provide funds for the operating cost of the anticipated aquatic center when it is completed and open to the public. Councilman Wesley stated, “When you have a city budget around three million dollars and you spend over $200,000 in trash removal, you are getting close to 10% of that budget being used for just trash removal. Times have changed. Things have gotten more expensive and it’s time to really make a concerted effort in repairing the infrastructure of this town. We have to do things right, but we must think outside of the box.” Just like reported in several articles back in the 1980’s the city council then had hopes of using the newly passed sales tax for street repairs and other city needs, the current council wishes to save more of the sales tax revenue and use it for the many “city needs” that have been expressed at recent meetings, etc.

Stated by the City Clerk and Mayor Holman, the City Attorney in general conversation has mentioned that the city has without a doubt, fulfilled their promise that they made 38 years ago. Their promises back then did not bind future decisions to be made and to be followed by future councils, especially when there is an entirely different council comprised of completely different officials, facing entirely different circumstances.

The contract with Advanced Disposal is a ten-year contract. Each year the monthly rate per unit rises roughly $0.20. The contract was drawn up in 2015 with the monthly rate at $7.40. Calendar Year 2016 is at $7.58, 2017 is at $7.77, 2018 is at $7.97, 2019 is at $8.17, 2020 is at $8.37, 2021 is at $8.58, 2022 is at $8.80, 2023 is at $9.02 and contract ending year 2024, the monthly rate will be $9.24.