GOSHEN — Budget deliberations have concluded, and with them, so has the question of how Goshen will pay for its trash removal service for the coming year.
But that doesn’t mean the discussion is going to go away.
Several weeks removed from funding the service through 2013, Mayor Allan Kauffman stressed that the issue will be something the city will continue to look at because the service is only funded through 2013.
Kauffman said that sometime after Jan. 1, after the makeup of city council is established, a committee of several council members and residents will begin to meet to discuss possible ways to deal with trash removal.
“We’ll discuss what they want their trash collection to look like and do they want recycling and how they want to pay for it in the future,” he said.
Kauffman said he’d like the meetings to include times for department heads to speak to the committee about what they do, the services they provide to the community and how much those services cost, in order to help residents decide what they would like to keep and what they could do without.
At the heart of the issue is revenues — more specifically, how to raise them. And while Kauffman has noted that Goshen has made many cuts over the last several years, raising revenues to help cover city costs is still a topic that needs addressed.
He noted that although the trash service was built into property taxes, “a lot of people are paying less property taxes than they were before.” He noted that property tax revenues last year were $1.6 million less than in 2008, reiterating that if residents do not want a trash fee, the discussions will have to center on what other service or services residents are willing to do without.
The possibility of a trash fee is most attractive to Kauffman because the potential for revenue is greater than in any other measure the city could take.
“Anything else is nickels and dimes compared to the potential of the trash fee.” He noted there are periodic adjustments to ambulance, cemetery and building fees and rates but that those are very small in comparison.
He said he’d like the state legislature to allow local governments more flexibility and options as far as raising revenues, but until that happens, there aren’t many other options available.
No matter what ideas come out of the discussion, however, Kauffman said something will have to give.
A major part of the discussions will be the question of “What do you want to give up?“ he said, referring to city services. “Because something’s got to go.”