Council divided on ending mandatory fee for pickup
LAFAYETTE — City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin floated a proposal on Tuesday to end the mandatory recycling fee for city residents, a move that could drive up the price charged to those who continue to use the service.
Every household in the city pays $2.30 a month for curbside recycling, regardless of whether they use the service.
“If you don’t want to recycle, you shouldn’t have to pay for it,” Shelvin said.
He asked City-Parish Attorney Mike Hebert at Tuesday’s meeting to draft an ordinance to end the mandatory payment, but some council members questioned the wisdom of Hebert’s proposal.
Councilman Andy Naquin said ending the mandatory fee and increasing the price for those who use the service could drive away residents who participate in the recycling program.
Councilman Keith Patin said he views the recycling program as a valuable city service.
“Sometimes you have to put policies in place for the greater good,” Patin said.
About 18,500 households participate in Lafayette’s recycling program, roughly half of the total 37,000 holds in the city, according to City-Parish Environmental Quality Manager Mark Pope.
Lafayette’s recycling program is managed by a private company, The Recycling Foundation.
Pope said he could not speculate how the company would respond to ending the mandatory payment by all city households. But Pope said he is almost certain the price would go up because the current business model depends on everyone paying for the service.
If a rise in the recycling fee leads residents to forgo recycling, the increase in waste going into normal trash bins could prompt Allied Waste to seek higher garbage fees because the company would have to handle more trash in the city, said Bobby Guidry, a local manager for Allied Waste.
“The material has to be collected. It has to go somewhere,” Guidry said.
In other business, Shelvin asked Hebert to research the possibility of a new sales tax or property tax in the downtown area to help fund a police precinct there.
City-parish government had been imposing a special fee on downtown bars to help pay for special weekend police patrols. That fee was suspended earlier this year when several bar owners filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.
Shelvin said a tax imposed on all downtown businesses would be more fair because it would spread the security expense among all businesses that benefit from police protection.
Hebert said Tuesday that he would need to do more research to determine the tax that would be allowed in the downtown area, what authority the council has to impose the tax or whether it would need approval from voters.
The council also voted unanimously Tuesday to deny a request to rezone a 20-acre tract in north Lafayette off East Pont des Mouton to allow for oil field service company to locate there.
The property is zoned for general business, but TEQ Land Company had asked for a new zoning classification of light industrial.
“I do not want to turn all of north Lafayette into an industrial park,” said Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who represents the area.