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City finalizes garbage contracts

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen formally approved the city’s waste collection contract and the newly set terms of the contract at its meeting Tuesday.

The board decided during a specially called meeting Monday to contract with Waste Pro USA for waste collection services and Riverbend Environmental Services for disposal for a combined yearly rate of $785,250.

Waste Management presented the city with a combined collection and disposal contract for $764,730.

City Attorney Hyde Carby informed the board that the term for the waste collection contract with Waste Pro USA would be two years with four one-year options to renew the contract. Collection contract terms can be up to six years.

Most of the terms of the contract, Carby said, are the same as they were with the city’s previous trash collector Waste Management. The main difference, he said, was the implementation of curbside recycling.

The city will select 1,700 households to participate in a six-month recycling pilot program, Carby said. The program is designed to allow the city and Waste Pro USA to work out any kinks in the recycling service.

The city will pay $1.70 per month per house for curbside recycling pickup twice a month, Carby said.

Garbage rates for residents will not change, and the curbside recycling service will be provided to residents for no additional cost.

Carby said Waste Pro will educate residents on recycling through newspaper ads, and he said the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality also has grants available for recycling educational materials.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith, who voted against awarding the contract to Waste Pro, asked Mayor Butch Brown to provide some kind of justification for the record as to why the city chose to not take the cheapest option for waste collection and disposal services.

The price of the Waste Pro USA contract and the proposal made by Waste Management for waste collection did not vary greatly, Brown said. He said, in fact, Waste Pro was cheaper.

Brown said that as far as the disposal contract, he found the potential for growth at the Riverbend landfill, located in Jefferson County, favorable.

Brown also said that splitting the contracts between the companies was better because if a disposal contract was set for 25 years as the law allows and a collection contract for six, bidders would be at the mercy of the disposal contractor who could set disposal rates to favor their company.

In other news from the meeting:

-The board voted to approve the sale of 15.4 acres of property behind the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center for $192,000 to the Worley Family Trust.

The sale price was determined by the average of two appraisals of the property as required by law.

The sale of the property is contingent upon approval of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, which must have the opportunity to conduct an impact study on the property.

Brown said the buyers have agreed to allow historical easements on the property if MDAH finds that necessary.

-The board discussed during its finance session the lease for the City Auditorium, which is up for renewal. Brown said First Natchez Radio Group has expressed interest in leasing the auditorium and making it a venue for musicals, concerts and other events.

The company, Brown said, would be responsible for the upkeep of the inside of the building and cutting the grass.

New Orleans Hotel Consultants currently manages the auditorium, as well as the Natchez Community Center and Natchez Convention Center.

-The board voted to award a contract for city planning services to The Walker Collaborative firm. The firm, which is owned by former city planner Phil Walker, will work with a committee comprised of local officials, business people and others to update the city’s building code and zoning ordinances.

The contract will be paid for by a $30,000 economic development initiative grant.

-The board voted to support Adams County joining 14 other counties to request joint bids for an aerial mapping project.

Geographic Information System Manager Peter Dale appeared before the board during its finance session to ask for the city’s support and potential funding.

Dale informed the board that the county’s aerial maps need to be updated. Dale said participating in a group bid with the 14 counties doing the same project could save the city and county a significant amount of money.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors voted earlier this month to join the other counties to request joint bids for the mapping project.

Dale said he estimates the project will cost approximately $30,000, and the cost could be split between the city and the county.

-The board gave City Attorney Hyde Carby permission to get a municipal judge pro tem in place. Mayor Butch Brown recommended local lawyer Anthony A. Heidelberg during the board’s finance session, and the board supported Heidelberg as the judge pro tem.

Brown said having a judge pro tem would allow the city to prosecute and adjudicate litter, overgrown grass and abandoned vehicle cases faster.

-The board passed a resolution at the request of veteran Tommy Williams to name the flyover bridge currently under construction at the intersection of D’Evereux and Seargent S. Prentiss drives the Veterans Memorial Bridge in honor of all Miss-Lou veterans.

The resolution will now go to the area’s legislators to approval.

-The city appointed Mike Gemmell as chair of the city’s tricentennial committee. Gemmell is volunteering his time to spearhead the city’s planning efforts for its 2016 tricentennial celebration.