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Dacula officials decide to keep sanitation a city service

DACULA -- City leaders in Dacula voted to keep sanitation service in-house rather than turn the job over to a private company. The monthly fee for basic service will be increased from $10 to $15, and add-on services will be charged above and beyond the basic fee.

The 2-2 tie vote was broken by Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks' vote. Councilwoman Sue Robinson and Councilman Wendell Holcombe voted to have the city continue providing the services, and Councilman Tim Montgomery stated that he would only vote to approve privatization.

"I can't in good conscience support this," said Montgomery on Thursday, adding that he would only support outsourcing, a revenue-neutral proposition. "The city will use over 16 percent of its 2011 property tax revenue to subsidize this option."

Mayor Pro Tem Greg Reeves stated Thursday that he would not support either option as presented. "We have over $2 million in reserves, with a surplus every year," said Reeves, maintaining that adding any extra expenses to property owners is not necessary during these difficult economic times.

The fee schedule of the newly approved plan, which will go into effect Jan. 1 is as follows:

Basic service will be billed at $15 a month, or $51 per quarter. If paid in full at the beginning of the year, the fee will be $180. Chipping and leaf service, available Mondays, Tuesdays or Fridays, will cost $30 for the first 30 minutes and $25 for each additional 10 minutes. Appliance removal, available on the same days, will cost $25 per appliance. Customers will have to call city hall to schedule any of these services besides the basic collection service. Recycling services will continue and will possibly be re-negotiated in coming months.

After Dec. 31, no additional 65-and-over senior citizens will receive free solid waste collection. Those seniors who currently receive that benefit will continue to do so, until they move out of the city.

Details of the newly approved plan will be mailed to city property owners in the next few weeks.

City to purchase land for park, pavilion

In an executive session Thursday night, council members voted to approve the purchase of three parcels of land in the historic area of downtown Dacula. The land, a little more than a half acre and for which the city will pay $167,000, will be used as a gathering place with a pavilion.

A fourth parcel is required for the planned park, and the city will seek an outside appraisal and purchase that piece, or the land could be condemned if necessary, according to Wilbanks.

The purchase price for the three parcels was based on an outside appraisal, "and we didn't pay one penny more than those appraisals," said city administrator Jim Osborn.