New Roads, parish police jury at odds over trash collection

Three months after authorizing the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury president to sign a new five-year contract for trash pick up, jurors face the possibility of having to renegotiate the deal with Progressive Waste Solutions.

The reason is a move by New Roads to broker its own deal for trash pick up within the city limits. If New Roads opts out of the parish’s deal with Progressive, parish officials say it could mean another fee increase for trash service for the rest of the parish.

“We don’t know yet if their backing out would have any impact on us,” said Parish Administrator Jim Bello. “Hopefully its none. But if there is, it won’t be positive. Our parish is very rural and that puts a lot of wear and tear on garbage trucks. Having the denser populated areas helps to defray those costs.”

New Roads Mayor Robert Myer, in a letter to Jury President Melanie Bueche dated Sept. 4, told the parish the New Roads City Council the day before had adopted a resolution giving Myer authority to advertise for bids for trash pick-up in the city limits.

The city’s request to not be included in the parish’s future contract negotiations for trash service came just after the Police Jury had just entered into a five-year agreement with Progressive Waste Solutions in June.

In its contract, Progressive agreed to charge $12.48 monthly per household for twice-a-week trash service in the parish. Progressive collects trash for nearly 10,000 households in the Pointe Coupee Parish, including about 1,800 in New Roads.

The new agreement with Progressive, which Bueche has yet to officially sign, came after several months of serious consideration by the Police Jury to implement a parish-run residential trash service. But a majority of the Police Jury nixed that idea after Progressive offered up a few savings in a new five-year contract.

Myer complained that the parish never reached out to the city during its negotiations with Progressive.

“It’s probably in the best interest of the city to look at all of these agreements to make sure they are in the best interest of the citizens,” Myer said. “The parish has to stop negotiating for other municipalties without any discussion. These concerns didn’t just start with my administration.”

Myer criticized the Police Jury for a practice of raising user fees on parish residents without getting input from municipalties or the citizens affected by the fee increases.

“The Police Jury did a study that shows they could probably operate their own system cheaper, yet they choose to contract it out,” Myer added. “We want to be able to look at (trash service) and see if we can save money and provide better service. This gives us an opportunity to not only look at cost savings, but enhancing the services we provide our citizens.”

Myer said one of those enhanced services is a curbside recycling program.

Bueche said she would respect the city’s decision to opt out of the parish’s contract with Progressive should it come to that.

Last week, the Police Jury also decided to send out letters to the other municipalties to see if they want the same option before the parish approaches Progressive with contract amendments.

“We’ll just deal with it the best way we can,” she said. “However, I feel we are stronger in numbers. I know (the city) was fully aware of what we were doing when we were negotiating our current contract with Progressive. We always handled the negotiations for the smaller municipalities and want to get the best deal for them.”