Pointe Coupee to consider running its own garbage collection service

The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury has reached a fork in the road on how to handle residential trash pickup.

The jury has two options on the table: Renewing the parish’s five-year contract with Progressive Waste Solutions or running its own residential garbage collection program.

In February, Progressive presented the jury with a contract renewal proposal boasting more than $1 million in potential savings if garbage collection is reduced from twice-a-week to once-a-week at a cost to the parish of $11 per residential unit, per month for the once-a-week service.

Progressive currently services nearly 10,000 residents in the Pointe Coupee Parish.

The waste management company also offered to reduce the price it charges the jury for twice-a-week service to $12.48 per residence, per month by reducing the consumer price index rate from 4 percent to 2 percent. The CPI is the rate the company adds to the per residence monthly charge. Historically, the company has increased the CPI rate each year.

Progressive’s renewal proposal would cap the CPI at 3 percent annually over the life of the new contract but would invoke a monthly fuel adjustment charge.

The parish’s current contract with Progressive ends February.

A report from private consultant John Nix claiming the parish could save approximately $4.9 million within the first eight years of implementing its own waste management program has some jurors frowning on Progressive’s deal.

The report, presented to the Police Jury in December, says the parish would spend approximately $800,000 annually on a parish-run operation with in-house costs dropping by $4.27 for once-a-week service per month, per residence and by $4.59 monthly per household each month for twice-a-week when compared to Progressive’s proposal.

The in-house cost projections include employee salaries, equipment and truck maintenance and expenditures for fuel and insurance.

On April 23, the Police Jury was presented with a lease purchase agreement from McNeilus, a nationwide trucking company, outlining lease-purchase guidelines for five automated garbage trucks at a cost of $236,546 each, for a total of $1.2 million.

The proposal says the parish’s first payment for the trucks wouldn’t be due until a year after the agreement is signed.

The offer from McNeilus is what prompted jurors to consider making a decision on the matter. The jury is expected to vote one way or other at its May 14 meeting.

“I think we’ve proven it’s doable,” Parish Administrator Jim Bello said of the prospect of the parish running its own service. “We’ve proven it’s affordable (and) we can save money. Let’s say we got into doing it ourselves and it proved to be too much. There are garbage companies out there waiting to do business with us. I think it’s worth the effort to try and prove we can do it or find out we can’t.”

Bello said he has concerns with Progressive’s proposal to levy a monthly fuel adjustment fee.

“Fuel prices are still relatively high — diesel prices especially,” he said. “Yeah, they offered to lower the CPI, but with that fuel adjustment, costs could shoot back up.”

Juror Cornell Dukes, a staunch supporter of a parish-run garbage system, said an in-house program could help generate revenue the parish so desperately needs right now and keep the jury from passing on any more additional fees and taxes onto residents.

“The jury is in no position right now to pass on a proposal that could save us somewhere in the upward of $3 million in the next four years,” he said. “When we are trying to increase our revenue coming into the parish, garbage is one place I want to take a hard look at.”

Jury President Melanie Bueche said she prefers to stick with Progressive.

“I’ve always thought it would be problematic,” she said of a parish-run service. “(Progressive) has offered us a good deal and they give us good service. I’m not anxious to go into debt trying to buy garbage trucks. Nor do I want to deal with all the problems that come with them.”