SPSA proposes budget

Published 9:06 am Friday, March 29, 2013

By Tracy Agnew/News Editor
Suffolk News Herald

CHESAPEAKE—The Southeastern Public Service Authority plans to give its employees a 2-percent raise even as projected revenues for the coming year are falling, the board learned in its Wednesday meeting.

Municipal solid waste has fallen 27 percent since 2005 and is continuing to decline. About 91 percent of the trash authority’s budget comes from tipping fees charged per ton of waste delivered.

SPSA Executive Director Rowland Taylor said Thursday that the drop is attributable to many factors — a struggling economy, which means consumers buying less have less product packaging to throw away; more ecologically friendly packaging; and recycling programs. Portsmouth is preparing to institute a recycling program, which will cut tonnages even more, Taylor said.

“Yes, it’s a concern, but we’re hoping it continues about the same level of where we are now,” Taylor said.

The $42 million budget also includes a 2-percent cost of living increase, to help offset the fact that employees had to absorb a Social Security tax increase, as well as a net increase of one full-time equivalent position.

Taylor said two new employees have been hired in recent months to help cut overtime costs at transfer stations when other employees go on vacation. The two employees work at whatever transfer station needs them that day, Taylor said. Reductions elsewhere meant the net increase was only one position.

Health insurance premiums for employees are also set to decrease.

The authority still holds about $34.6 million in outstanding debt. No tipping fee increase is proposed for the coming year. The fee currently stands at $125.

“The budget appears to be a very good plan of action for the coming year,” Taylor said.

The authority’s board could approve the plan as early as its April 24 meeting, but it could get delayed to its May 22 meeting.

To view the full budget document, go to www.spsa.com and click on the budget link on the right-hand side of the page.