DeKalb County won’t raise garbage fees or reduce collection schedule to once a week this year. But it will get new ambulance service in August.
On May 21, commissioners on the Public Works Committee received an operational overview from the Sanitation Department that concluded, “Sanitation will be able to reduce expenditures to match revenue income in FY 2013.”
“DeKalb County is not planning any changes to the rate structure or delivery schedule for garbage pickups for the remainder of 2013,” county spokesman Burke Brennan told The Crier. “However, during this time we will continue to research the priorities of our customers and continue our outreach efforts in preparation of addressing this issue again in 2014.”
The report said the administration is reviewing some proposals from the sanitation department for “other savings and revenue generating ideas.” Sanitation’s 2013 operating budget is $70.9 million and the projected expense at year-end is $65.1 million. The 2013 revenue budget is $66.2 million, including $43 million from residential fees.
For the first four months of the year, sanitation was $1.9 million below the expenditures budget. The report said deploying 41 CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles has reduced fuel expenses and helped the department hold the line on operational expenditures.
In January and February the county held a series of public meetings to discuss whether DeKalb should increase the $265 annual sanitation fee to $305 or reduce the garbage collection schedule from twice a week. to once a week. The reason given for possibly raising the fee for the first time since 2006 was to cover increased fuel expenses and operating expenses for sanitation trucks.
In December, the department realigned route schedules so the crew that does yard waste and recycling would begin working four 10-hour shifts instead of five 8-hour days. Recycling and yard waste collections were moved to the same day. These services were not expected to be affected by the proposed schedule reduction.
On May 14, the commissioners deferred for 30 days an agreement with Brookhaven for sanitation services.
On May 28, the board of commissioners approved a bid from American Medical Response, Inc. (AMR) for a contract to provide emergency ambulance services for the DeKalb Fire Rescue Department. Under the contract, there is no cost to the county and AMR will collect fees according to a schedule the commissioners adopted on August 28, 2012. AMR will have 15 ambulances at fire stations and other roving units.
The current service provider since 2010, Rural/Metro Ambulance, received the lowest scores of three companies interviewed for the contract.
DeKalb Fire Rescue Chief Edward O’Brien said the county is asking AMR for $55,000 to cover half a captain’s salary for someone to monitor response times and $35,000 to program radios and computers. The fire department is also seeking reimbursement from AMR for 911 communications fees related to EMS that are charged to the fire department. This is expected to be $620,000 annually.
O’Brien said AMR will start serving DeKalb 30 days after the contract is approved by the county attorney. He estimated AMR’s start date would be Aug. 1.
AMR has promised a response time of 8 minutes 59 seconds for ambulance arrival 90 percent of the time.