$400,000 OK’d for garbage trucks

MORGAN CITY, La. — The city’s finance committee recommended Thursday that the city allot up to $400,000 to purchase refurbished side-loading garbage trucks to pick up the city’s residential can garbage.

The recommendation included up to $10,000 to pay for shipping costs. The recommendation will go before the city council at its meeting Tuesday.

Once the city makes a decision to purchase the trucks, the bids for the trucks would have to be advertised for 15 days.

City councilman Barry Dufrene said up to $400,000 would be available to buy as many trucks as necessary to be able to pick up the garbage.

The money to buy the garbage trucks would come out of the city’s pollution abatement funds.

Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi emphasized that he still wants to privatize the city’s residential garbage pickup though the decision is ultimately up to the council.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of trucks you get, you’ve got to provide service. We can’t provide the service,” Grizzaffi said.

City Public Works Director Mike Loupe had requested up to $500,000 to buy the refurbished trucks, but the finance committee settled on the $400,000 recommendation.

Loupe has looked at garbage trucks refurbished by Alliance Refuse Trucks in Phoenix.

When asked if the city could pick up the garbage with two refurbished trucks instead of three, Loupe said anything is better than what the city has now. “The ideal thing is to have three (trucks) with one spare,” Loupe said.

Grizzaffi said the city’s garbage pickup problems are not due to the trucks. “We can have brand new trucks, used trucks, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to be able to pick the garbage up,” Grizzaffi said. “I’ve got all my trucks working right now. We still can’t pick it up.”

Grizzaffi said some of the problems with garbage pickup are due to personnel issues with workers taking the same vacation days or sick days, which makes garbage pickup on those days difficult.

Mayor Pro-tem Louis Tamporello said, “We do have a personnel issue. We may always have a personnel issue.”

If the city goes with a private company, the city would not have to deal with personnel issues itself, but would also lose the possibility of making some money to use for other expenses, Tamporello said.

The city is also planning to raise its garbage collection rates from $12.19 per month to about $18. The proposed increase will go before the council Tuesday, and then will be up for approval at July’s council meeting.

Grizzaffi said the city is not going to make any money by keeping residential garbage pickup city-run, it will just lose less money than it currently is losing due to the proposed $6 per month collection fee increase.

Dufrene said the finance committee’s job is to recommend how much to spend, and the council would still have the option to privatize residential can garbage pickup if it chose to reverse its decision from May’s council meeting.

“I cannot emphasize enough about the personnel issues. If that doesn’t change, and I think the mayor has a valid point, then this will not work,” Dufrene said.

Even if the city went with private garbage pickup, the city will have to have some employees for curbside garbage pickup, city chief financial officer Deborah Garber said.

Tamporello said his concern with privatizing residential garbage pickup was that the city would be locked into a five-year contract.

Though Grizzaffi made his opposition to the city continuing to stay in the garbage pickup business clear, the mayor said, as an administrator, if the council decides to buy refurbished trucks, he will help the city “give it our best shot.”

Tamporello said, “I still believe that we’re looking at this plan for 18 months or 12 months. … At the end of six to 12 months, we still ought to know if we’re doing something. If we’re not doing it, I’ll be the first one to stand up in front of City Hall and say we didn’t do it right.”

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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Morgan City Daily Review
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