- Flint, MI Mayor Karen Weaver's proposed budget for FY18, which included surprise cost increases for waste collection services, was approved by the City Council in a 7-0 vote on April 3, as reported by MLive.
- As proposed, annual waste collection fees would increase from $150.47 to $177.83 per parcel. City officials attributed this to a decline in population and participating households, which means less money is available to cover the current contract with Republic Services.
- Local residents will now have the opportunity to comment on this proposed budget at an upcoming meeting and the council will have to vote again for final approval.
Weaver's debate with the council over selecting Republic Services or Rizzo Environmental Services for a new five-year contract was one of the most contentious and drawn out negotiations in 2016. The majority of council members supported Republic, despite what appeared to be a higher bid, due to the value of other services they were offering. Weaver continued to stand with Rizzo until details emerged about the company's alleged involvement in a federal corruption case in October. Founder Chuck Rizzo Jr. soon resigned and Republic was awarded a $3.74 million one-year contract with the city shortly after.
Since then, questions were raised about who should be responsible for legal fees incurred during the debate and multiple attempts have been made to initiate a recall vote against Weaver. Amid all of this, the Republic contract, which expires on Nov. 12, had looked like it wouldn't require new attention until the fall.
As noted by city officials this rate increase is relatively minor, but the fact that Flint's population is declining could be a cost factor when the contract is up for negotiation again. Though Michigan recently reached an $87 million settlement to replace the city's lead pipes, this process will take time and more people could leave before it is complete. In the meantime, corporate funding will also be bringing recycling education to schools in an effort to use children's new familiarity with piles of plastic water bottles for a more positive outcome.