Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” could serve as a fitting theme song for the latest riff between New Roads and the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury.
The lyrics of the popular tune from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun” best describe New Roads Mayor Robert Myer’s idea about residential garbage collection within city limits: He believes the city can do it better than the parish has.
And the mayor already took steps to prove it when he informed the Police Jury in September that the city wants to opt out of the parish’s five-year contract with Progressive Waste Solutions for residential trash service.
Doing so could mean fee increases for garbage collection in the rest of the parish since the Police Jury’s contract costs with Progressive are based on a parishwide count of approximately 10,000 households, including those in New Roads.
Jury President Melanie Bueche has already said the parish would respect the city’s decision to opt out of the contract, which became effective June 1, if that’s what the mayor truly wants, despite the potential consequences.
This isn’t the first time New Roads has done this.
Former Mayor Sylvester Muckelroy did the same thing back in 2000.
Eight years later, the parish had to re-incorporate New Roads into the contract after garbage collection proved to be too much of a burden for the city to bear on its own.
Myer has a laundry list of grievances about why he wants out of the parish’s garbage contract. He has been most vocal about the annual garbage collection fee increases imposed on residents by the Police Jury for the past three years.
Pointe Coupee Parish residents were paying $13 a month in 2011 for trash service.
Now, they are charged $18.50 a month.
The increases were driven by an escalating service charge that was placed into the parish’s former contract with Progressive Waste Solutions.
Myer also is upset the Police Jury did not invite city leaders to the negotiating table earlier this year when the parish began ironing out the details of its new five-year deal with Progressive.
Parish officials have said the Police Jury has historically negotiated on behalf of its municipalities in hopes of getting the best deal for them.
“We’re not going to buy into this anymore,” Myer told the New Roads City Council during its Oct. 1 meeting. “We just can’t be held hostage with everything we do with the Police Jury.”
The City Council has given Myer the authority to advertise for bids for residential trash service in the city limits.
Myer also wants the council to consider having the city operate its own trash service, something the parish came close to doing until Progressive lowered its monthly charge to the parish for twice-a-week trash service to $12.48 per household in the new deal.
Myer said the city is in good financial shape to take on a city-run garbage service and offer the same twice-a-week service — and curbside recycling — at a rate lower than the one in the parish’s contract, which intrigues City Council members.
“Perhaps we can beat their deal,” Councilwoman Bernadine St. Cyr told Myer at the Oct. 1 meeting.
“Certainly we can provide all those services for our citizens on our own. I think the time has come for New Roads to regain its independence.”
Before any decisions are made, Myer said, a comprehensive study highlighting an in-house program will have to be completed.
And how this potential pullout would affect the rest of the parish remains to be seen.
Westside bureau chief Terry Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.