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Vidalia garbage rates may rise

VIDALIA — Garbage collection issues for Vidalia are continuing to pile up, and officials say residents might see an increase in rates to keep the city-operated collection running.

Alderwoman Maureen “Mo” Saunders, who serves on a committee alongside Alderman Triand “Tron” McCoy to examine the sanitation department, addressed the board of aldermen Tuesday saying rates would have to increase in order for the city to continue operating its own garbage collection.

“We’re not sure what we’re going to do yet, but I would like to let the public know that we will have to go up on the rates if we stay with the town’s pickup,” Saunders said. “We’re not out to make money, we just want to break even.

“We’re not even sure how much (the rates) would go up yet.”

Currently, private residences are charged $15.50 monthly for garbage pickup, and the smallest commercial accounts are charged $26 a month.

Mayor Hyram Copeland said recently that the city lost $275,000 operating the sanitation department last year providing the service to 1,729 households and many of the city’s 286 businesses.

The response from Vidalia residents, however, has been a willingness to pay the extra price to keep the city’s service, Saunders said.

“Most of the people I talk to are saying they’ll pay the extra price just because they’re so happy with the service,” Saunders said after the meeting. “I would like to hear from more residents of Vidalia to really hear what it is they want before we make a decision.

“We’re still weighing out all the different options.”

Approximately three waste disposal vendors from around the state have submitted proposals to the city, which Saunders said the committee has yet to review.

No deadline is set for the committee to make a decision, Saunders said, but they are working diligently to provide the mayor and board with a variety of options.

In other news from the meeting:

 The board awarded a project to Bryant Hammett and Associates to install several flood gates on the Vidalia Riverfront as part of an effort to stop water from reaching the street during high river levels.

Vidalia Street Department Director Lee Staggs said the floodgates will be installed into the drainage system on the riverfront and is something the city has been working toward for three years.

“Once the river reaches 54.5 feet, we can close the gates and the water won’t back up into the streets anymore,” Staggs said. “Right now we usually go out there and put sandbags to stop it, but once those are done we’ll go out and manually close the valve to stop it.”

Staggs said the company would soon begin engineering studies for the project.

The board approved the route for the Krewe of Vidal Mardi Gras parade at 2 p.m. Jan. 19.

Lineup for the parade will be at 1 p.m. at Vidalia Upper Elementary and the parade will continue on Concordia Avenue to Louisiana Avenue before heading to Carter Street.

From Carter Street, the parade will turn at Vidalia High School onto Murray Drive and take Concordia Avenue back to Vidalia Upper.

Carter Street will be blocked off from 1:45 p.m. until 3 p.m.

Police Chief Arthur Lewis urged residents to be cautious when coming over the bridge into Vidalia during the parade.

Patrol cars will be at the foot of the bridge and at the Mobil station red light to direct residents through traffic diversions, Lewis said.

For more information about the parade, contact Cassandra Lynch at 318-518-7656.