Council OKs garbage truck buys, fee hikes
MORGAN CITY, La. — Two residents voiced their opposition to the council’s proposed decision to keep the city’s garbage residential pickup city-run at Tuesday’s council meeting, instead arguing in favor of privatizing residential garbage pickup.
The council approved the finance committee’s recommendations to spend up to $400,000 on any combination of equipment to able to pick up the city’s garbage and up to $10,000 for shipping costs.
The council also introduced an ordinance to increase the city’s garbage rates. The ordinance states that residential can pickup would increase to $13 per month plus the parish landfill charge. The landfill charge can fluctuate but normally is around $5 bringing residential garbage rates to about $18 per month, Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said.
The ordinance would also increase commercial residential size can garbage pickup to $18 per month plus the parish landfill charge.
If the ordinance ends up being approved, rates would increase in about two and a half months from Tuesday’s council meeting, Grizzaffi said.
The ordinance would also eliminate commercial dumpster pickup, and the city plans to send out notices to business owners informing them of a 60-day notice to find a private dumpster garbage collector, Grizzaffi said.
Resident Deborah Price said, “You the council are elected to represent the citizens and the taxpayers of the city … I haven’t talked to a single person this past month who thinks the city should still be in the garbage business. I don’t think that y’all are up there representing the citizens as a whole. I think you’re up there making a decision for us.”
Price questioned why the council thinks that buying refurbished trucks again after years of doing so will change this time with just “a little bit more effort,” while still dealing with personnel issues, she said.
Price said she has not talked to anyone who thinks the city should stay in the garbage business.
Resident Dean Adams said he also wants residential garbage pickup to be privatized and use the up to $400,000 to fix some of the problems the city has, and said the city could also write its own contract to where the city could look for another private garbage collector if a company did not perform the service adequately.
In regard to addressing personnel issues, Mayor Pro-tem Louis Tamporello said, “We have to keep people accountable for what they do. The days of three people leaving at one time whether they’re going fishing, whether they’re going to the doctor, or whatever the deal is, that’s got to stop.”
Councilman Barry Dufrene said personnel issues may also be due to the equipment they are working with right now. “I’m hoping that we’re going to provide better equipment so they can provide a better service,” Dufrene said.
Price said she does think the city should provide curbside pickup of trash not in cans, for which the city does not charge an extra fee. Price said she has heard council members say the reasoning for keeping residential garbage pickup city-run is to provide money to offset that curbside service.
“There are other ways to pay for providing curbside,” Price said. “That money can come from the pollution abatement money that you get every year. It doesn’t have to come from our garbage collection rate.”
Councilman Tim Hymel said the city is losing about $600,000 per year on sewage costs and about $300,000 on curbside service. This year has been the worst for the city’s garbage issues that Hymel can remember having lived in Morgan City his entire life, he said.
The city’s garbage pickup, sewer and water services are combined into the sanitation department. Hymel said the city actually does make money on residential garbage pickup, so it makes sense to keep that revenue source.
“That money that we hope to be able to make may be able to help keep some of our losses down,” Tamporello said.
The council has also requested to hold a meeting after the final decision is made on purchasing new equipment to address the sanitation department issues, Tamporello said.
The city’s three refurbished trucks operating now are 2001 models and have been able to keep the city running for years, but the city is now operating with basically “one and a half” trucks right now, Tamporello said.
Tamporello said the city has “limped along long enough” and needs to get better garbage trucks. However, the city does not have the $750,000 required to purchase three brand new trucks, so refurbished trucks are the alternative, he said.
Other council business included:
—Approved a resolution for a change order to the Roadway Repairs and Improvements, phase 5, in the amount of $77,360 for work on Railroad Avenue and Levee Road.
—Approved a change order for the lake houses at Lake End Parkway in the amount of $2,100 to add sprinkler systems.
—Approved a resolution of support for La Fete d’Ecologie at Lake End Park.
—Accepted the city’s annual audit report.
—Granted permission to Doric Lodge 205 Free & Accepted Masons to hold a community “National Night Out against Crime” on Oct. 1 at Lawrence Park.
—Granted permission to serve alcohol at several sites during the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.
—Granted permission for use of the space under the U.S. 90 Bridge in Morgan City for a Youth Teen Festival hosted by Calvary Christian Fellowship Church and God of a Second Chance Ministries on Aug. 10.