Inside Report: Pointe Coupee, New Roads split on garbage deal

Garbage collection has become a dirty business in Pointe Coupee Parish as the date nears when New Roads will officially split from the Police Jury’s solid waste contract with Progressive Waste Solutions.

On Feb. 1, the parish will stop collecting residential trash within the New Roads city limits.

That action comes at the request of Mayor Robert Myer, who informed the Police Jury in September he had been given authority from the New Roads City Council to seek a new deal — separate from the parish — for trash collection for the city’s approximately 1,800 households.

And until New Roads can secure a new contract for trash pickup, Myer said, the city has locked in an extension on the parish’s present contract with Progressive, set to expire Jan. 31, which will keep garbage trucks rolling within the city limits Feb. 1.

Myer is convinced the city can offer its residents cheaper trash service (including a curbside recycling program) without the annual fee increases he said the parish implemented within the past few years. The mayor said he also was frustrated by the parish’s audacity in negotiating its new five-year deal with Progressive on the city’s behalf.

“It’s so blatantly clear that the Police Jury has overreached their authority,” Myer said. “The Police Jury wants to continue to take from the citizens of New Roads to take care of their poor money management. They need to learn to control their own finances.”

Police Juror Cornell Dukes took the news of New Roads’ departure from the parish’s solid-waste contract hard. Dukes, who represents a large portion of New Roads residents, has tried to persuade the Police Jury to not let the city walk away so easily from the parish’s contract with Progressive.

Dukes even asked the state Attorney General’s Office to weigh in on the matter even after the rest of the jury said they had no problems letting New Roads, the parish seat, fend for itself in the garbage collection issue.

In an opinion dated Jan. 7, Assistant Attorney General Emily Andrews said New Roads was well within its rights to break away from the parish’s solid-waste contract to broker a deal of its own.

The opinion, which does not have the weight of a legal ruling, also says the parish did not have the authority to negotiate a new contract with a vendor without the authority of Myer and the City Council.

“My objective is to try and keep us together, united,” Dukes said. “It doesn’t make economical sense, to me, for them to want to leave. Because of this, the people inside the city limits of New Roads are going to be double taxed.”

Dukes is referring to the parish 1-cent solid waste sales tax that New Roads residents will still have to pay in addition to any user fees that may be levied in the city’s trash collection deal.

Myer has said previously if Dukes and the Police Jury had any integrity they would either suspend the solid-waste tax on the city or refund to New Roads the revenue the parish annually collects on the tax within the city.

On Jan. 14, Dukes asked the Police Jury to consider redirecting the revenue it collects from New Roads residents for the solid-waste tax into another area that would be beneficial to its residents.

“I’m thinking we could redirect it to use for parks and recreation — or something like that,” Dukes said. “It’s our discretion what we want to use those tax dollars for.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops since Myer said he’ll take whatever steps are necessary to get the tax revenue returned to his residents.

Terry Jones is the Westside Bureau chief for The Advocate. He can be reached at tjones@theadvocate.com.