Ferriday garbage rates not going up, yet

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, March 13, 2013

FERRIDAY — Residents in Ferriday won’t see an increase in their garbage bills, at least not right now.

After several residents spoke out against raising garbage rates, the Ferriday Board of Aldermen opted at the request of Alderman Johnnie Brown to establish a committee of aldermen and residents to find a solution to the town’s ongoing garbage bill problem.

The board introduced an ordinance last month to increase household rates from $15 a month to $25 a month and business rates from $22 a month to $32 a month.

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The town was seeking to raise rates in to help pay its more than $200,000 trash bill, Mayor Gene Allen said.

Waste Management suspended its service in Ferriday after the town could not pay its outstanding bill.

The bill was approximately $215,000 when Allen took office last July, he said.

Allen said the town also owed $125,000 to Preferred Transport, which he said is a disposal company that sold out to Waste Management.

Delta Disposal is now collecting garbage in Ferriday under an emergency contract until Dec. 31. Delta is charging $9.45 per unit for 1,240 residents and 110 small businesses in Ferriday for once-a-week pick-up.

Waste Management was charging $13.72 for twice weekly pickup.

But one resident pointed out that she is still paying $15 a month and wanted to where the rest of her money is going.

“I don’t understand why we (would) have to pay $25, if they’re only charging $9.50 per household,” she said.

After being asked the same question by a couple of other residents later in the meeting, Allen said that in order to get the service the residents want with the next contract and pay Waste Management monthly for the past-due bill, rates had to increase.

Residents, including Alderman Brown, complained about the service from Delta. The residents said they had to buy their own trash cans because they were not supplied by Delta, and those trash cans are being damaged because the trash collectors throw them around. Residents also said trash collectors leave trash lying in the street.

“I don’t understand why we have to pay more for less service,” one resident said.

Most of the residents wanted to know why they would have to pay for an outstanding bill that they said is the town’s fault that it did not get paid.

Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd agreed with the residents as someone who has paid their garbage bill every month.

“I don’t think it’s fair for us to have to pay for something that we already paid for,” Lloyd said. “And the ball don’t lie right here; the ball lies farther than here. The last administration put us in a bind.”

Lloyd was referring to former mayor Glen McGlothin during whose term current town officials have said the outstanding trash bill grew out of control.

Allen said after the meeting some of the problem may stem from residents not paying their bills, but he also believes some of the garbage bill money was used for other things, such as paying salaries for unnecessarily overstaffed departments. He said the front office was staffed with 12 people when he took office, and it now has a 2-person staff.

“If you look at the departments being overstaffed, it’s easy to see where the money could have went,” he said.

Many of the residents called for an investigation into where the money had gone.

Brown said he and Alderman Elijah “Stepper” Banks went to Baton Rouge several times to try to get help from the state about figuring out where the money went.

“We wrote a letter to the justice department,” he said. “Nothing happened.”

Lloyd said she believed Louisiana has two sets of rules, implying the rules were separate for blacks and whites.

“If either one of the minority mayors would have let (this happen), Miami Vice…the FBI…CSI… and every other one would be here, and you know that,” Lloyd said.

Brown said a committee needed to outline specifically how and for what reasons the rate increase was going to affect residents. Allen appointed Brown and Banks to the committee and told them to figure out a plan and present it to the board.

In other news from the meeting:

-Banks informed the board that he would be asking for an attorney general’s opinion of whether Allen previously improperly denied Banks’ request to call a special meeting.

-The board voted to work with the Concordia Parish Police Jury to repair Tenth Street from Louisiana to Kentucky avenues.