For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, Kenner will soon provide its residents with curbside recycling service, according to government officials.
The program is part of a deal — approved by the City Council in December and signed Thursday — ensuring that Ramelli Janitorial Services Inc. will continue picking up trash in Kenner for the next decade.
Ramelli initially took over Kenner’s trash collection contract in 2006, and its current arrangement with the city wasn’t due to expire until 2017. However, at his last City Council meeting as Kenner mayor Dec. 17 before leaving to become Jefferson Parish president, Mike Yenni asked the council to authorize a new 10-year contract with Ramelli, and it agreed.
Council President and Acting Mayor Mike Sigur said Thursday that the new deal ensures the current trash pickup cost of $10.98 a month per household — a total of about $241,560 a month — will not increase drastically during the life of the contract, except for adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index .
The deal calls for Ramelli to begin curbside recycling collection as soon as bins are ordered and distributed, which is expected to take between 60 and 90 days, Sigur said.
City spokesman Bob Ross said implementing the recycling program will cost Kenner an extra $1 per household — or a total of about $22,000 — each month. The city has found the funds necessary to cover the first year of the program through other changes to its contract with Ramelli.
Those changes include eliminating Kenner’s three recycling drop-off sites, Ramelli’s agreement to waive fuel-related fees for the duration of the agreement and a first-year waiver of the CPI adjustment.
Another $8,000 a month will be saved by getting salaries of former Kenner officials who joined Yenni’s parish administration off the books.
Additionally, the contract calls for Kenner to build a trash drop-off site, which Ramelli would staff and which would be similar to the one the parish operates on David Drive in Metairie. Ramelli plans to operate a wood chipper there, meaning residents could bring their discarded trees and branches there to be ground up into mulch, Ross said.
The mulch would then be offered to residents free of charge. The benefit for Ramelli would be not having to take so much “woody waste” to a landfill, where it would have to pay “tipping fees.”
Sigur said Kenner has not yet secured funding for construction of the drop-off site, which could be built on land off 24th Street that is now occupied by an old sewer plant slated for demolition.
When the new Ramelli contract was approved in December, some residents criticized the city for not seeking bids from other contractors who might have offered lower rates. They noted that Ramelli and its owner, Robert Ramelli, had contributed money to the campaigns of several Kenner officials, including Yenni.
But Sigur said Thursday it was likely that bids from another trash collector would have involved higher rates. The city’s research showed Jefferson Parish and Gretna pay about $15 a month per household, while Harahan forks over about $13, compared with Kenner’s figure of $10.98, he said.
Jefferson, Gretna and Harahan all contract with Progressive Waste Solutions.
“This is a good deal,” Sigur said about the Ramelli contract.
Kenner offered residents recycling prior to Katrina, but officials said participation was low. The city stopped providing the service after the 2005 storm, though private firms at times have attempted to fill the void.
Ramelli consultant Nick Nicolosi said he is optimistic things will be different this time because the city’s recycling drop-offs have proven to be popular.
“People are more (environmentally) conscious now,” he said.