Ascension’s garbage services get upgrades

The Ascension Parish Council’s push for increased garbage services is starting to pay off.

Allied Waste Services and Waste Pro USA, two of the three companies providing garbage services to Ascension Parish residents, have announced they will offer weekly residential garbage pickup and recycling services beginning July 1.

“Now you can have one provider for your garbage and recycling service,” reads an Allied Waste flier that was sent to parish residents last week.

Allied Waste’s services will be offered to any citizen in the parish, while Waste Pro is offering recycling to its current customers.

Stephen Lytton, Waste Pro’s Louisiana division manager, said his company had signed an exclusive contract with Pelican Point subdivision south of Gonzales to begin offering recycling services. The company is distributing 4,000 recycling bins in the parish, he said.

Lytton was out of the office on Wednesday and did not respond to an email seeking additional comment. A message left for officials at Allied Waste’s Baton Rouge office also was not returned on Wednesday.

Parish officials have been working for months on ways to increase garbage services and decrease costs at the same time. They have debated an exclusive contract requiring minimum standards for services to all residents, and they still haven’t decided yet what those standards should be, or if the contract should be exclusive or inclusive.

The parish government’s administration has been gathering facts on how much a non-exclusive contract would cost residents, compared to an exclusive contract.

Allied Waste, a division of Republic Services, appears to have heard officials’ calls for more services at cheaper prices.

Its flier touts an introductory price of $18.99 per month, which includes weekly garbage and recycling pickup featuring separate 95-gallon rolling carts.

Previously, customers were paying on average between $23 and $24 per month for weekly residential garbage pickup and had to seek out separate recycling services.

The parish’s third garbage provider, Dale’s Garbage Service, has not yet announced plans to add any services. The company’s owner, Dale Hidalgo, has been an outspoken critic of the parish’s plans for garbage service reform. A message left for Hidalgo at his office on Wednesday was not returned.

Chris Loar, the chairman of the Parish Council, who has been a proponent of garbage-disposal reform, said he’s happy to see “positive change” coming to the parish.

“We are pleased that Allied Waste has heard our concerns, stepped up to the plate and is trying to do better by our citizens,” Loar said. “WastePro has also been meeting with individual subdivisions and is offering similar plans whereby Ascension residents are getting more services for less than they’ve been paying, and I’m hopeful they too will soon be offering a parishwide plan as Allied is doing.”

Loar consistently has said Ascension residents were paying more money for fewer services than surrounding parishes and municipalities, and the time for change was past due. He said he was hopeful the vendors continue responding to the wishes of the residents and parish officials.

“While this isn’t everything that an exclusive contract would provide our citizens in terms of the absolute best bang for the buck,” Loar said, “it does show that our efforts at changing the status quo are paying off.”