Pointe Coupee seeks savings
By Terry L. Jones
July 24, 2012
The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury is considering taking its trash collection service out of the hands of a private company and creating a parish-operated solid waste management program.
Parish officials say doing so could result in annual savings between $400,000 to $600,000.
“Sales tax (revenue) is flat. There’s just not a lot of money out there and the money people do have they want to keep in their pockets,” said Melanie Bueche, president of the Police Jury.
The parish’s trash collection service is contracted through Progressive Waste Solutions, formerly IESI.
Numerous calls to Progressive representatives were not returned last week for comment.
Pointe Coupee’s contract with the company includes a 4 percent annual increase that has forced jurors to approve rate increases over the past several years.
In January 2011, the jury increased the rate from $13 to $14.50, and in March 2012, jurors raised that rate to $18 hoping to avoid another rate increase in 2013.
But according to parish officials, that increase will probably be necessary.
West Baton Rouge Parish, Iberville Parish and Port Allen have all contracted their garbage collection services through Progressive and each is handling the increasing rates differently.
The Port Allen City Council has two options on the table: implementing annual increases throughout the remaining life of its contract with the waste management company, or the less popular choice of nixing its curbside recycling program, which it offers to the public free of charge.
Last month, Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso announced his parish was scaling back its trash collection from twice a week to once a week to avoid rate increases.
According to Pointe Coupee Parish Administrator Jim Bello, the parish’s contract with Progressive expires in February 2014.
“That’s why we’re looking at this option now to give us time to assimilate to it,” Bello said.
In a report presented to the board last month, Bello recommended the Police Jury pursue an in-house waste management program.
Bello said it will take six garbage trucks with an estimated cost of $235,000 each to handle twice-a-week pick-up for residential garbage.
The Police Jury would have to hire a manager to oversee the program — at a projected salary of $41,000 annually — and six drivers with commercial drivers’ licenses at a pay rate of $15 an hour, Bello said.
Other managerial salary adjustments should not exceed $50,000, according to Bello’s report.
The parish made a nearly $500,000 investment when it purchased garbage cans, and it has an agreement with Reliable Landfill in Livonia to dump household waste at a flat rate of $30 per ton.
“If we’re bringing in a steady stream of waste every day, we might have to renegotiate that,” he said.
An in-house program would have an estimated total operating cost of $1.2 million in its inaugural year, Bello said.
The parish expects to spend approximately $1.7 million in 2012 for its contract and associated disposal costs, he said.
Bueche said she intends to put together a committee of jurors who support the concept and others that are a little hesitant of the change.
“I’m surprised other parishes haven’t jumped to this,” Bueche said. “We’re wrestling with our budget and trying to see how we’re going to stay afloat. I think the Police Jury is up to the challenges related with this.”