Morgan City garbage fee to increase $6

MORGAN CITY, La. — The residential garbage collection fee for the city is expected to increase by about $6 per month as the city council made the decision Tuesday to get bids to buy three refurbished side-loading garbage trucks.

The city plans to get out of the “commercial dumpster” garbage pickup business, which uses rear-loading garbage trucks, Mayor Pro-tem Louis Tamporello said.

A notice of probably 45 or 60 days will be sent out to business owners informing them of the amount of time they have to find a private garbage collector, Tamporello said. The city has had issues with rear-loading trucks including finding people to drive the trucks and vehicle accidents, he said.

The city will continue to pick up garbage in residential-size cans at businesses using side-loading trucks, Tamporello added.

The city has about $350,000 set aside in its budget to buy the refurbished trucks, and planned to begin receiving bids on the trucks today, Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said.

The proposed rate increase for the city’s residential pickup is from the city’s current rate of $12.19 per month to about $18 per month and will continue to pick up garbage twice a week, Grizzaffi said.

To get the rate increase approved, the proposed increase must go be on the agenda at the next two city council meetings and 15 days of advertisement is also required, he said.

“A rate increase wouldn’t come for two and a half months,” Grizzaffi said.

Grizzaffi will meet with city Public Works Director Mike Loupe and hopes to have bids on refurbished trucks within a week, Grizzaffi said.

City council members expressed their reasoning behind their decisions regarding garbage pickup.

“What we found was on the commercial dumpster side, we were losing a substantial amount of money there,” councilman Barry Dufrene said. “It makes sense to stay in the residential can business and get out of the commercial dumpster business and also to retain the curbside business that we are providing to our citizens right now.”

Councilman Tim Hymel said, “Everybody I’ve spoken with has one interest in mind. That’s ‘I want my trash picked up on the days it’s supposed to be picked up.’”

Councilman James Fontenot said he would like the council to look at updating the refurbished trucks every couple years by taking one out of service to update it. Taking that measure might prevent the city from getting in the same situation several years down the road of three trucks that are unreliable at the same time, Fontenot said.

Councilman Ron Bias said, “I don’t think this will stop the bleeding immediately, but I think it will slow it down. And if we put an honest effort into it, I believe we’ll have a sanitation department that most of our citizens will be happy with,” Bias said.

Loupe said he is looking to possibly hire a couple of part-time workers to help with maintenance of the refurbished trucks the city expects to buy. The city’s residential garbage pickup serves about 5,000 customers, he said.

“We are proposing that we look at this for a year, a year and a half,” Tamporello said. “We have a commitment to ... track trucks a little bit better than what we’ve been doing and with some better equipment we feel that we’ve got a shot at fixing this problem.”

Grizzaffi said the city is committed to picking up residential garbage.

“There’s no more excuses,” Grizzaffi said. “The citizens are expecting us to do the job. Up to this point, we’ve been unable to do it.”

The council had also considered signing a contract with Progressive Waste Solutions to pick up the city’s garbage, but decided against it.

Roddy Matherne of Progressive Waste Solutions said the refurbished trucks the city will buy will likely not be quality, reliable trucks. “Those refurbished trucks are probably something that we got rid of because they’re a piece of crap that they put a brand new paint job,” Matherne said. “You’re going to end up with some problems. I can promise you.”

Grizzaffi said he and city administrators will monitor the expenses and revenue on a per truck basis and after 12 to 18 months, they will be able to come back to the council to tell the council whether it was a good decision.

The city has been continually losing money in the sewer, sanitation and garbage departments and cannot afford to continue to keep its garbage collection rates the same, Grizzaffi said. “It’s been good for a long time but eventually somebody was going to have to step up and do something about it,” he said.

In other business, the council

—Adopted the city’s 2013 millage rate of 17.62 mills, which keeps the same millage rate as 2012.

—Approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with the St. Mary Levee District to designate the levee district as its authorized agent for communicating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on local matters.

—Approved a resolution to request the Louisiana Congressional delegation to amend or revise the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

—Voted to accept the Wharf Committee’s recommendations to retain Moffat & Nichol on behalf of the city regarding the city’s wharf project.

—Voted to accept payment of the housing authority’s taxes for 2011 and 2012, which total about $55,000. The city had waived the housing authority’s taxes over the past two years, Grizzaffi said.

—Approved the finance committee’s recommendations to allocate $1,692 from Friends of Main Street to purchase stop sign pedestals to put around Lawrence Park, and allocate $1,542 from Friends of Main Street to replace a Flood Wall Monument on Front Street, and allocate $2,075 from the City Hall Construction to replace carpet in the city’s tax office, and allocate $3,000 from the general fund and reallocate $7,000 to hire KEE Environmental Services to prepare for permit renewal for storm water management.

—Approved an ordinance to amend the General Plaza district regulations to include business and professional offices.

—Approved a resolution to accept The Daily Review as the official journal of Morgan City to publish legal publications at $3 per column inch.

—Approved a resolution for a change order for the water treatment plant generator.

—Approved a resolution for bid tabulation at the Cannata Pump Station.

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Phone: 985-384-8370
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