Garbage decision draws concerns in Morgan City
MORGAN CITY, La. — Some residents have aired concerns about the City Council’s decision to keep residential garbage pickup city-run while others do not want to see the city’s commercial dumpster pickup privatized in response to a council decision on May 28.
Resident Deborah Price said she would like to see the city’s garbage pickup, including residential cans and commercial dumpsters, privatized with the exception of the free curbside pick-up of tree limbs and leaves.
“I don’t have any confidence that anything is going to change to a radical extent if we keep the garbage service,” Price said.
The problem the city’s garbage collection system has is with the side-loader trucks that collect the residential cans, and buying refurbished trucks will not fix the problem, Price said.
“You’re still going to be stuck with trucks that are already broken down before you even buy them, that have just been refurbished,” Price said.
On the other hand, upon learning of the council’s decision to get rid of the city-run commercial dumpster pickup, some business owners expressed opposition to leaving business owners to find their own private garbage collectors for dumpster pickup.
“I think that they should just privatize the whole thing and that way everybody would get professional service,” Plantation Treasures owner Linda Daniel said.
Still, Daniel said she has been pleased with the city’s dumpster pickup, and has not had any problems with it.
Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said the city has 254 commercial dumpsters, which it will be removing. A time frame for the removal has not been set yet.
Mayor Pro-tem and city councilman Louis Tamporello said getting out of the commercial dumpster business made sense due to the labor-intensive costs and hazard of injuries associated with operating the trucks.
Tamporello said private garbage collection companies already offer the option of dumpster pickup to Morgan City businesses and residents.
“The one thing that we want is to provide service to our citizens. If we do it, we want to provide service. If a private firm does it, we want to provide service,” Tamporello said.
Business owners will be sent a 60-day notice to inform them of when the city will stop dumpster collection along with a list of available private garbage companies to choose from, Grizzaffi said.
Margie LeBlanc, Morgan City resident and owner of Delta Printing, said her business does not rely on a dumpster and uses residential garbage cans. She has not had many problems with garbage can pick-up, which has been “fairly good,” LeBlanc said.
“Businesswise, it’s kind of nice for them to pick up on the day they’re supposed to pick up. If the cans stay out there that means that I’m having to have extra pickup in my shop,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc also referenced the city’s proposed increase of its residential garbage collection rate. “Like everybody else, as slow as the economy is, it seems like they keep going up with everything and we’ve still gotta pay,” LeBlanc said.
Once the trucks come in, the city will begin picking up garbage with the refurbished trucks at the city’s current residential pickup rate of $12.19 per month, Grizzaffi said. The new residential garbage rate, expected to be around $18 per month, will have to be introduced in the form of a resolution at a city council meeting, and the new rate would take effect 15 days after approval, Grizzaffi said.
Berwick’s residential garbage can pick-up rate is $19.50 per month while Patterson’s city garbage pick-up rate is $19.47 per month.
Price said she talked with a city councilman about why the council chose to keep the city’s residential garbage collection city-run.
She was told that the decision made sense from a financial standpoint because keeping the residential garbage pickup helps bring in revenue to offset the city’s free curbside tree limb and leaves collection, Price said. However, Price said there are other ways to offset that curbside service.
Tamporello said the city will also retain that curbside pickup because no private companies in the area offer the service.
Tamporello said, on the residential side, companies were asking the city to sign a five-year contract that the city would have been locked into, which was something the council had concerns about.
“When we’re talking about buying a refurbished truck, it’s not like we’re buying junk, like Roddy (Matherne of Progressive Waste Solutions) said. We have a listing of what’s been replaced,” Tamporello said.
The city plans to institute a better maintenance program of the trucks, and ask drivers to be accountable for what they are doing, Tamporello said.
The city generates about $1.6 million per year from a pollution abatement tax, which can be used to fund anything in the sanitation, water and sewage department, Tamporello said. The city had been using that money as a subsidy for the garbage pickup, he said.
With the residential garbage pickup increase, Tamporello hopes the city will be able to put some money aside from the pollution abatement tax to buy refurbished trucks or even new trucks, if the tax generates enough money, he said.
The major issue is the city’s side-loader trucks that pick up residential garbage, which have problems with the hydraulic arm used to lift garbage cans, Price said.
Grizzaffi said he was in favor of privatizing all city garbage collection in the form of a city contract with a private company, but he did not have a vote in the matter.
“The council decided we want to stay in the garbage business. We’re going to give it the best effort possible to pull this off,” Grizzaffi said.
Grizzaffi said the city has gone out to bid on buying refurbished trucks. The bids will then be advertised 15 days in the newspaper and the bids must be approved by the finance committee and then the ultimate decision will be made by the city council, he said.
The cost to buy three refurbished trucks will be in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, Grizzaffi said.