Soon it’s going to cost a little more money to put the trash out in Port Allen.
Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere revealed recently at a City Council meeting that the city spends approximately $90,000 annually to subsidize residential trash pickup for 2,003 households within the city limits.
And his solution to the problem is a gradual rate increase the City Council will likely vote on in May.
Port Allen residents pay $17 each month for trash service but Progressive Waste Solutions, the city’s third-party garbage contractor, charges the city $20.71 per household for twice-a-week pickup.
“There is no way we should be subsidizing the cost,” Riviere said. “It’s a vital public service that we shouldn’t be profiting off of, but we shouldn’t be losing $90,000 a year on it either.”
Riviere wants the council to consider shrinking the annual deficit by adopting an ordinance that would institute $1.50 incremental rate increases until the city’s contract with Progressive expires in 2016.
The City Council introduced the ordinance at its April 9 meeting. The council will hold a public hearing and possibly entertain a vote on the measure at its May 14 regular meeting.
In the meantime, city leaders also are weighing the possibility of joining West Baton Rouge Parish’s garbage contract with Republic Services as another alternative to possibly keep garbage rates from rising for customers.
West Baton Rouge Parish residents are charged $19.60 per month for twice-a-week garbage pickup and weekly recycling service.
Parish Finance Director Phillip Bourgoyne said Republic Services charges the parish $19.29 per household to handle trash pickup.
He agrees bringing the city into its contract could result in lower rates because Port Allen is such a densely populated area. But he said he doubts residents would see cheaper rates immediately because the parish entered into a new five-year agreement last year with Republic Services.
The city also would have to negotiate its way out of its current contract with Progressive, but that doesn’t discourage Riviere from the idea.
“I actually talked to PeeWee Berthelot a couple of years ago when the contract first came up to see about possibly piggy-backing onto the parish’s contract, but it was just a brief discussion,” he said. “I think it would be a good move for us — if the parish is receptive.”
The rest of the council seems interested in the idea as well.
However, Councilman R.J. Loupe did quip during the council’s April 2 meeting that he wouldn’t want the city to go through what New Roads did during its recent battles over garbage collection with the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury.
Loupe was referring to a dispute that occurred earlier this year when New Roads Mayor Robert Myer decided to opt out of the parish’s garbage contract with Progressive to broker a five-year garbage deal with Republic Services for his city.
Myer justified the city’s action by promising to get a cheaper garbage rate for his residents, something he said the parish could have done also had it invited municipal leaders to the negotiating table when they were ironing out the details of a contract.
Here’s hoping the trash talk between leaders in Port Allen and West Baton Rouge Parish doesn’t get as dirty.
Westside bureau chief Terry Jones can be reached at email@example.com.