Lakeland criticizes big drop in Republic’s trash service

Lakeland logo copyLakeland’s city leaders discussed taking a tougher stance with the city’s trash service provider, heard details about the latest audit and contemplated several other resolutions at the city board’s Jan. 4 work session.

Republic Services has been giving the city below-average service on trash and recycling pickups for several months, reaching a new low right before Christmas when the company didn’t complete its recycling route, according to City Manager Jim Atkinson. This led to a city-wide delay of trash and recycling that continued through Dec. 3, with some pockets still missing pickups as of Dec. 4.

The city can terminate the company’s contract if the board believes the service is inadequate and they don’t have confidence the company can improve it.

“This is something we have to deal with,” Atkinson said. “We can’t let it go on as it is now.”

He anticipates that the city’s contact with Republic can attend the board’s business meeting this week. That meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 11.

The board also heard a report on this year’s city audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. It was a clean audit with no deficiencies. Seventy-one percent of the city’s general fund is unassigned, which is a really strong position. Lakeland’s expenditures as a percentage of the general fund’s unassigned balance is 172 percent, which the auditor said is really good – better than other surrounding municipalities.

Financial highlights of the audit included:

  • The City’s assets and deferred outflows of resources exceeded its liabilities and deferred inflows of resources at the close of the most recent fiscal year by $66,821,345 (net position). The net position of the City of Lakeland consists of $50,999,647 in net investment in capital assets, $8,288,185 in restricted, and $7,553,513 in unrestricted. The unrestricted net position may be used to meet the government’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.
  • The City of Lakeland’s change in net position increased by $3,670,838 in fiscal year 2017.
  • As of June 30, 2017, the City of Lakeland’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $22,067,017, a decrease of $12,714,682 in comparison with the prior year.
  • At the end of the current fiscal year, unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $7,529,530 or 71.2 percent of total general fund balance.
  • The City of Lakeland’s total debt decreased $2,830,129 during the current fiscal year.

In other business, the board:

  • Welcomed Cory Brady as the city’s new planning director. Tom Skehan recently resigned to accept another position elsewhere.
  • Heard a proposed ordinance that amends the city’s land development regulations. It will add General Assembly to the Agriculture (A) Zoning District (which Atkinson estimated accounts for about 75 percent of the city). The mayor expressed reservations about this change.
  • Heard a proposed $300,000 amendment to the FY2017-18 budget. The amendment would cover greater expenditures than originally anticipated in the General Fund because of legal fees relating to a bond issuance and to a carry-over grant project for a gateway sign.
  • Heard a resolution that would approve a construction agreement with the lowest bidder, Wagner General Contractors, for the city’s U.S. 70 gateway sign at Lakeland’s eastern city limit. The proposed contract would be for $22,900 plus $5,000 in a construction contingency fund, for a total of $27,900. Funding will be taken from a Shelby County Community Enhancement Grant.
  • Heard a summary of a new ordinance that establishes rules for using city parks, replacing all previous ordinances. It covers park hours (dawn to dusk) and regulates alcohol use, fishing, dog leash usage and waste pickup, fires, reservations, noise levels, ATV usage, where bikes can be ridden, tampering with park vegetation, boating or swimming in I.H. Managerial Park Lake, firearms and fireworks.
  • Heard a resolution to pay more to Enscor LLC for additional work required on the FY2017 sewer improvements project. The change order would be for $17,000. Funding would come from the Sewer Fund – Improvements Other Than Buildings.
  • Heard a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a grant contract with Tennessee Emergency Management Agency for assistance in Presidential Disaster Declaration number FEMA-4320-DR-TN for the storm on May 27, 2017.
  • Heard a resolution instructing the city manager and/or city attorney to obtain the necessary easements and right of way for the construction of New Canada Road by negotiation and/or condemnation proceedings and authorizing the city attorney to file and pursue condemnation proceedings concerning Tract 44, owned by John Vuong Louthain and his wife, Melanie Anne Louthain.