One of the first issues to be tackled in the Roeland Park 2015 budget discussion will be the solid waste fee that is charged on property tax bills. The assessment during 2014 is $173.91 per household.
In Roeland Park the assessment includes a leaf pickup program which is passed through to residents and at least one city councilor has questioned the fee. Becky Fast said she believes the fee is regressive and noted that everyone pays the same amount regardless of the size of the property. She also pointed out that Roeland Park is expected to receive sales tax revenue from Walmart for perhaps a year longer than originally anticipated. That is a result of the slow start on the Mission Gateway development where Walmart is planning to relocate.
Last year Roeland Park had been forced to work through its budgeting process anticipating a Walmart construction schedule that would have started in 2013. Construction at the Gateway has still not begun which means a reprieve for Roeland Park. Roeland Park had anticipated losing revenue as early as August 2014. Walmart’s departure is expected to mean approximately a $700,000 annual drop in sales tax until the commercial area can attract new tenants.
The solid waste fee includes pickup for trash, yard debris, recycling and large items as well as the leaf pickup program and small administrative cost. The leaf pickup fee is $28.06 this year, which generates $79,858. Its cost is expected to decrease slightly next year. The trash collection costs $142.95 per household.
City Administrator Aaron Otto gave the council an option that would keep the solid waste fee steady over the course of three years by predicting the total costs of the components. The council will need to decide in May or June if the leaf program continues and if it remains a fee on the property tax bill. The trash collection contract negotiated along with Fairway and Westwood, has small increased built in over the next three years.