BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — Bristol, Virginia city leaders say they are between a rock and a hard place in trying to balance the city’s budget.
The City Council held a public hearing on the budget Tuesday. Residents expressed one primary concern: the city’s move to increase solid waste collection fees from $33 per month to $72.
“When you’re looking at over $400 a year put on waste collection, that’s a problem,” said resident Kevin France.
France said he and his wife are already reconsidering their household budget in light of the fee hike. He asked how the new fee rates could affect residents living on a fixed income.
“Are they going to decide: I can’t buy groceries this week, I can’t buy medicine, because I’m going to have to pay more to have my trash picked up?” France said.
Mayor Neal Osborne said he’s sympathetic, but the city is running short on options to resolve its landfill issues.
Virginia law requires municipalities to pass a balanced budget and the city is facing as much as $60 million to safely close its landfill.
“It’s just like, do you want to get your toe stomped out or do you want your hand smashed,” said Osborne.
Residents proposed a solution: the city should press pause on its budgeting process until it finds out whether state or federal governments might contribute to the landfill costs.
But that may not be such a simple solution.
City Manager Randall Eads said he found out this week that his request for funding from the federal government was denied.
Bristol has reached out to the state for $12 million dollars to help cover landfill costs, but it’s unclear when lawmakers in Richmond will pass their budget.
“It’s altogether possible, they might run right up to the deadline, you know, and we have to have our budget done before the end of June as well,” said Osborne. “There’s several layers of uncertainty that we have to have to deal with.”