By Terry L. Jones
August 02, 2012
PLAQUEMINE — Several members of the Iberville Parish Council expressed displeasure Tuesday night over Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso’s recent decision to scale back garbage collection for parish residents.
Trash pickup occurs twice a week, and refuse is collected every two weeks.
Ourso informed the council he has decided to reduce that schedule to once-a-week pickup for trash, effective Aug. 1. Refuse pickup would stay on its biweekly schedule, he said.
Ourso said he based his decision on the Solid Waste Fund’s looming deficit.
“When one-third of 1 percent of sales tax collections is less than your new contract price and new house count, then a decision had to be made,” he said. “This is not a General Fund expenditure; the solid waste fund has to stand on its own.”
The parish pays Progressive Waste Solutions to collect its garbage and refuse.
Randall Dunn, parish financial director, said the council budgeted about $3.6 million for the Solid Waste Fund in December.
In his financial report to the council Tuesday, Dunn said the parish already had spent $1.2 million of that fund within the first five months of the 2012-13 fiscal year beginning Jan. 1.
Ourso said the parish spends $265,000 a month for trash collection, but collects only $210,000 to $220,000 monthly in sales tax revenue.
Unlike residents of many Louisiana parishes, Iberville residents don’t pay for trash service, he said.
“You are at your maximum with the 5 percent you share with the municipalities, the Fire Department and the school boards,” Ourso told the council. “I made the call. Any fingers to be pointed, point them at me. I get paid to make the tough decisions.”
Councilman Salaris Butler told Ourso he would like to see the council involved in the decision-making process to help determine if there is an alternative.
“I think if we go to picking up garbage once a week, we’re looking for trouble,” Councilman Howard Oubre said. “There’s going to be garbage scattered all over Iberville Parish.”
“If you want twice-a-week pickup, all you have to do is put another tax on the people,” Ourso responded.
“Well, there’s something wrong,” Oubre replied. “Seems like we’re always short. Where is all the money going?”
“I don’t know,” Ourso said. “Maybe they’re paying me too much. Maybe they paying you too much. Maybe y’all going on too many trips.”
Ourso said he’ll be meeting with representatives from Progressive Waste Solutions this week to sort out the details.
“There’s going to be some glitches,” Ourso said. “Garbage is not paradise.”