Alma city officials discussed a contract for a possible solid waste management system and a proposal to purchase the old Allen Canning Co. building during a study session Thursday night.

After receiving feedback from River Valley Waste Removal on a proposed contract for a solid waste management system, Alma Public Works Director Mark Yardley brought the contract before council members Thursday night.

Yardley asked for permission to provide the contract to local waste management companies in preparation of a call for bids on providing the service to Alma residents.

Contract term would be five years with no increase in costs to the city for the first two years, Yardley said. The company providing service also could only increase costs twice in the five-year term, and no more than a total 6 percent, he said.

"The longer the term of the contract, the better the price we’re going to get," Yardley said.

Yardley worked up rate estimates that would grant the city nearly $80,000 in revenue from the venture.

Alma has about 1,732 residents. According to Yardley’s estimates, if the city receives a service contract of $10.25 per customer, they could charge customers an additional $4, making their total costs $14.25, or $15.71 with taxes included.

Seniors could get a 10 percent discount on the total cost, making their cost $12.82, or $14.13 with taxes.

While Yardley said these rates are competitive for the area, they are merely estimates. Bids on the project would determine how rates will be set, he said.

Yardley hopes to advertise for bids on the project within the next two weeks, he said.

Alma Mayor Keith Greene told council members that the city had made a offer of $100,000 to purchase the old Allen Canning Building on Fayetteville Avenue.

The building could be used as a rental for any one looking for a start up location, Yardley said.

"It would be to encourage businesses to start up in our area," Yardley said. "You basically incubate a business and hatch them in the community."

Yardley said the idea is something many cities do, though usually with office space rather than a warehouse. Rental contracts would be two to three years, and the business would be required to relocate in Alma, he said.

Additional money will be needed to repair the building and prepare it for use, and it would require ongoing maintenance, but as a city holding there would be no property taxes, Yardley said.

In addition, the space could bring new jobs and sources of revenue to the city, he said.

Alma Police Chief Russell White noted that the space also could be used as a fire station, adding that it would behoove the city to have control over the building’s appearance.

"We’re going to be spending quite a bit of money on streetscaping, and that’s going to be the first thing you see when you come down here," White said. "It’d be nice to have some control over what it looks like."

The city’s offer has been neither accepted nor rejected, he said. If accepted, the proposal will go before the city council for approval.

Greene also announced that Wayne Beck, a member of the planning commission and former postmaster at the U.S. Post Office in Alma, was hired for the open clerical position recently vacated by Crissy Inge.

Inge recently resigned both her position as the mayor’s assistant and as the Alma City Clerk to work in real estate. A new city clerk has not yet been appointed.