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Avondale Estates City Commission sets 2023 sanitation, stormwater fees

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Avondale Estates City Commission sets 2023 sanitation, stormwater fees

Avondale Estates City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission, at its April 12 regular meeting, set the sanitation and stormwater fees for 2023. 

Both fees remain unchanged from when they were set last summer. DeKalb County has asked the city to set special assessment fees, like sanitation and stormwater, by mid-April. The sanitation fee remains $596 per household, and the stormwater fee is $180 per household.

The city is in the process of reevaluating its sanitation services, which could include a shift to curbside garbage collection. City Manager Patrick Bryant said city staff anticipates discussing the options for the sanitation program at the next city commission meeting.

“If any changes are adopted to that program by the board resulting in a different cost for service and therefore a different fee, there will be options for potential rebates at that time,” Bryant said. “This assumes the service will remain the same.” 

The city could issue refunds or collect additional fees if needed. 

Bryant previously said that maintaining the fee would ensure the city is still collecting the revenue needed to cover the existing program in case there are no changes to the sanitation services.

DeKalb County is considering increasing the tipping fees it charges cities to dump trash at the county’s landfill, a cost that would likely be passed on to customers. The tipping fee is currently $33 per ton, and the county is proposing increasing the fee to $95 per ton for municipal disposal. 

To see the full breakdown of the increased commercial, landfill and tipping fees, click here.

Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore said the county hasn’t increased this fee in about 10 years. 

“The increase they’re proposing is substantial. It could affect our future decisions,” Elmore said. “I’m a big fan of incrementally doing things, raising fees, whatever, so that it’s not such a shock. That’s not happened, and so we may be in for a little shock.”

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved an increase to the commercial, landfill, and tipping fees for the sanitation department during its meeting on March 28. The increase will be effective June 1. But the commission excluded the cities and community improvement districts that haul waste to the county landfill from this increase. 

The cities that haul waste to the county landfill are Decatur, Avondale Estates and Chamblee. The other nearest public landfill to Avondale is in Ball Ground, and their tipping fee is $55 a ton. DeKalb County’s fee is currently $33 per ton. 

“Making the move to Ball Ground would not only cost us more now, but we would also incur a transportation cost in hauling our solid waste up to Ball Ground,” Bryant said. “I also know that if the county were to implement the increase in their tipping fees as proposed, it would result in about a $115 increase per unit for sanitation services.” 

Commissioner Lisa Shortell noted that the county is not currently proposing to increase fees for DeKalb County residents, and it feels like the county is passing the cost to the municipalities. 

The increase only impacts commercial sanitation services, and the county is not proposing increasing the residential rates for customers in unincorporated DeKalb County at this time.

Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold and Bryant both previously said that any increases would likely be passed on to customers by their respective commissions, though they noted that the decision is up to the elected representatives of each city affected by it.

“We spend close to $90,000 a year on landfill expenses, so if that fee were to triple, that would significantly increase our cost to provide sanitation,” Bryant previously said.

In other business: 

– The city commission appointed the DeKalb County Board of Registrations and Elections to conduct the municipal election this fall. Mayor Jonathan Elmore, Mayor Pro Brian Fisher and Commissioner Dee Merriam are up for reelection. 

– The city commission approved a new contract for auditing services with Mauldin and Jenkins for a three-year period. The contract amount is $150,000. 

The city commission hired a consultant to prepare the 2021 audit when the city didn’t have a finance director. The city, however, was not satisfied with the timeline for conducting the 2021 audit.

– During the work session, the commission discussed a speed study of Clarendon Avenue and Kensington Road.

The city is seeking to reduce the speed limit on Clarendon Avenue, between South Avondale Plaza and Berkeley Road, and Kensington Road, between South Avondale Plaza and Covington Highway, to 25 miles per hour. The speed limit on those roads is currently 30 miles per hour.

“The reason that we were doing this is to make a determination as to whether a reduction in speed limit on those roads is warranted or not,” Bryant said. “The findings suggested that the 85th percentile average speed, meaning the average speed of the 85th fastest driver, was still under the speed limit on both roads.”

Since the average speed was lower than the current speed limit on Clarendon Avenue and Kensington Road, the averages were within five miles per hour of the requested reduced speed limit. The Georgia Department of Transportation approved the reduction from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour, and it’s up to the city commission to make the final decision, Bryant said.

“You had me at speed limit reduction,” Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher said. 

The commissioners also asked city staff to look at other residential roads that have a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour and to consider reducing the speed limit as well. 

The city commission did not vote on reducing the speed limit on Wednesday night, and is anticipated to do so at the next regular meeting. 

The Avondale Estates City Commission will meet again on Wednesday, April 26, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 21 N. Avondale Plaza, and via Zoom. 

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