LaGrange Residents Push Back on Proposed Budget Cuts
During the LaGrange City Council Meeting on Tuesday evening, the city held a public hearing to hear comments on their proposed budget for FY 2023. Several residents criticized cost-saving decisions to drop curbside recycling and reduce agency funding.
Several residents asked the council to reconsider cutting curbside recycling, suggesting charging for the service or reducing service days. Sam Breyfogle asked that the city not be shortsighted with its approach to this year’s budget for cost savings.
“We don’t want to waste resources; none of us do. It’s a cost savings matter in the long run. I understand this recycling business may be costing the city, but have we given it our whole shoulder to determine is it a numbers thing and can we get more people involved to make it cost effective?”
Breyfogle’s wife, Laura, also strongly urged the council to keep curbside recycling.
“It makes LaGrange a better place to live. It makes us a more responsible community. It gives us the opportunity to do our part to take care of the earth,“ she said. “The bottom line is that it’s the right thing to do to make recycling as easy as possible.”
Judy Laurens gave similar comments, saying the town in Alabama where she had moved to LaGrange from 20 years ago even had curbside recycling, and they weren’t known for being very progressive.
“We had curbside recycling there for a number of years and to me to go back to a situation where we don’t have that anymore is like going back 70 years ago and saying we’re going to move to town without indoor plumbing. It’s just something you expect in a progressive town,” Laurens said.
Council members discussed charging for the service, but they believe with current participation that just isn’t feasible. They believe it’s very likely that many of the current curbside recycling participants would drop the service if they had to pay for it, which would then require rates to be higher for the remaining participants for the program to break even.
Troup County Democratic Party Chairman Kevin Littlefield spoke on behalf of the party’s committee members, asking that the council to not cut agency funding for the domestic shelter, Harmony House.
“In good conscience, we cannot support cutting funding for a shelter for domestic abuse,” said Littlefield.
During the city council’s annual budget work session, council members agreed to cut agency funding by half across the board, in addition to dropping curbside recycling, in order to avoid a 6.1 percent increase to natural gas rates. Over the last two years the cost of the natural gas that the city purchases has more than doubled in cost.
Harmony House received $25,000 from the city last year and requested the same amount for FY2023. The proposed budget has them receiving $12,500 from the city for the upcoming year.
The council is expected to make a final decision on the budget during its next meeting on June 21 at 5:30 p.m.