BEGGS — The St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Commission voted unanimously Monday to withdraw a proposed application with the state Department of Environmental Quality to increase the amount of garbage accepted at the parish landfill as well as the number of out-of-parish sources for that garbage.
Commissioner Kathy Moreau told the large crowd at the meeting that the commission’s vote is in response to the public sentiment displayed at a July 29 public hearing held in Opelousas with DEQ.
Moreau said it was obvious from those at the public hearing that there is little support for increasing the amount of garbage brought to the landfill each day.
The 8-0 vote came without that of Commissioner Eddie Godwin, who was absent.
Tommy DeJean, an Opelousas attorney, asked Chairman Jodie Powell why the commission decided to seek an increase of the garbage volume taken to the landfill from current annual 85,000 tons to the 150,000 tons a year.
Powell said St. Landry recently lost its long-standing contract to accept some residential and commercial garbage from Evangeline Parish.
The loss of that contract allowed more room at the 80-acre St. Landry landfill to accept garbage from elsewhere, he said.
Powell did note that St. Landry was not considering bringing in garbage generated in Lafayette.
Moreau said the landfill also until the past month had been underestimating the amount of garbage hauled to the landfill from St. Landry and Evangeline.
The installation of new scales that weigh trucks dumping garbage created a more accurate measurement of what was being brought into the landfill located along Bayou Boeuf near the junction of La. 10 and La. 182.
Katry Martin, executive director of the landfill, said that since 1983, the landfill has operated under a DEQ permit allowing the landfill to take in only St. Landry Parish garbage.
Several years later, a state statute granted the landfill permission to modify that original permit and accept garbage from Evangeline.
In an interview, Martin said the former contract with Evangeline provided the commission with about $300,000 annually.
Martin said those funds have been remitted to the parish’s 12 municipalities and parish council for road maintenance and litter abatement.
The landfill operation is also funded by a 82-cent parishwide sales tax.
Nicky Dejean said it shouldn’t be the commission’s business to fund parish and municipal road projects with money received from out-of-parish garbage.
“Your job isn’t to take in money and dole it out to people. It’s not your job to provide trinkets, toys and jobs to political entities. Do your job and nothing else,” DeJean said.
Powell denied the commission surreptitiously formulated a plan to modify the current permit without proper public notification.
“No one did anything underhanded. We followed the procedure and DEQ set up the hearing that was given proper public notice,” Powell said.
DeJean said because parish voters approved the sales tax that created the landfill 32 years ago any increase in garbage acceptance should also be approved by a parish referendum.
Members of the commission are appointed by the Parish Council and the Parish Municipal Association.