The Lafourche Parish Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with a new garbage contract that will reduce the cost by nearly $5 per household each month.
The vote accepted a proposal from River Birch LLC to take over residential garbage collection in all areas of the parish, except within the city limits of Thibodaux.
Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle said he plans to present a final contract to the council at its next meeting May 14.
The proposal was approved by the council’s Solid Waste Committee earlier this month. According to the letter, the company plans to offer a five-year contract for twice-a-week collection, unlimited bulky waste collection and new 95-gallon garbage cans for residents, starting at a rate of $15.50 per household.
The company will also purchase new equipment.
The parish is currently paying $20.17 per household, Councilman Daniel Lorraine said.
Based on the number of estimated households at 34,580, the first year of the contract would cost $535,990.
At $20.17 per household under the current terms, the current contract would cost the parish $697,478.
The current deal with Progressive Waste Solutions expires at the end of this year.
Lorraine, one of the members of the Solid Waste Committee, commended Solid Waste Manager Jerome Danos for helping to negotiate the contract and bringing it to the committee.
Lorraine called the new contract proposal “unbelievable” and a “no-brainer.”
Ten years ago, the parish was paying the previous contractor $17.40 per household, Lorraine said.
The parish contract is financed through a 0.7 percent sales tax that excludes Thibodaux.
Cantrelle and Lorraine have said the current tax revenue is more than enough to cover the new price.
“This is well within our budget, and we don’t have to go back to the taxpayers,” Councilman Jerry Jones said.
For the past two years, the parish has pulled more than $3 million from BP fine reserves, royalty funds and other discretionary budgets to cover a roughly $2 million gap between solid waste revenue and costs.
“With the new contract, service stays the same, with new equipment, nothing’s cut, and for this price, it’s a no-brainer,” Lorraine said. “It’s a miracle.”
Before the council officially approves the new contract, Councilman Jerry Lafont asked the company to provide the number of trucks it will deploy for bulky waste and for regular pickups.
The council also heard reports from its legislative internal auditor, Reggie Bagala, Ochsner St. Anne CEO Timothy Allen and Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter Advisory Board Chairwoman Betsy Magee.
Bagala asked the administration to review the parish’s website, noting that the community services calendar was bare, and property tax and public works reports have not been updated for the past several years.
Ochsner is part of Lafourche Hospital Service District No. 2 and receives property taxes from some residents. Using the $260,000 in taxes it collected last year, along with other money, the hospital provided 56,000 residents with free services such as health screenings and programs, Allen said.
The hospital is also the only district in the parish that pays taxes, Allen said, contributing $375,000 to the parish in 2018.
The Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter saw a record 1,000 adoptions last year, Magee reported, but a large number of cats go unadopted each year due to the number of stray cats.
To combat it, the shelter is working with three veterinarians in south Lafourche to provide spay and neuter events, she said. Last year, the program helped spay 300 cats, while the shelter saw a decrease in the number of cats surrendered to the shelter by the same number.
“This is the only method of addressing cat overpopulation throughout the country that been successful,” Magee said.
The shelter also recently received a $90,000 grant from the Petco Foundation to renovate its dog kennels. According to the terms of the grant, the project must be completed by August.
The advisory board is also working to write some new parish ordinances and rules for cruelty and neglect of animals. Among the group’s wish list is the addition of a green space for exercise, more community outreach, a free microchip program, free spay and neuter for pit bulls, renovating or building a new facility and better relations with the Sheriff Office’s Animal Control division.
-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.
Posted on Fri, April 26, 2019
by By Julia Arenstam Daily Comet Staff Writer