St. James Parish seeks new garbage contract

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2012



CONVENT – For the first time in 19 years, St. James Parish government will seek proposals for residential solid waste collection in the hopes that the move will save the parish money.

The council voted 6-0 Wednesday night to authorize Parish President Timmy Roussel to advertise and seek proposals for residential waste collection and recycling. The parish’s current garbage contract with Waste Management LLC ends Oct. 31, but Roussel said the parish needed to give fair warning to Waste Management before seeking a new contract.

Councilman Ken Brass, who heads the parish’s Solid Waste Committee, said the solid waste contract, valued at $2 million a year, is the parish’s largest single professional services agreement. He and others on the council believe that by opening the contract up to other firms, the parish could save thousands of dollars in collection costs. Residents pay monthly user fees, but the parish government subsidizes most of the cost with revenue from one-quarter of a 1-cent sales tax.

During a discussion prior to the vote, Roussel said both St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes were recently able to dramatically lower monthly collection fees by opening up competition with other firms. Garbage fees in St. John dropped from $13.38 per month per household to $11.28 per month after getting a new five-year contract with IESI/SWDI last year. In St. Charles, rates lowered from $11.99 per month to $9.74 per month after they changed contractors in 2010.

In April, Waste Management increased its fees by 50 cents per month, from $15.93 to $16.43 per household because of a change in the consumer price index in the parish. The parish, which already covers part of the cost, agreed to cover half of the increase and passed the other half onto the residents. Residential collection fees jumped from $6.50 to $6.75 per household per month, Roussel said.

Along with Brass, Councilmen Alvin St. Pierre, Jason Amato, Terry McCreary, James Brazan and Charles Ketchens voted in favor of the resolution. Councilman Ralph Patin was absent from the meeting.

In other action, the council voted to reschedule its first council meeting July because it falls on the July 4 holiday. The council voted in favor of moving the meeting, held at the parish courthouse in Convent, to July 11 at 6:30 p.m.