City fails to issue request for alternative trash disposal options

Published 1:44 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017


NATCHEZ — After voting to end the city’s current garbage collection contract in August, Natchez aldermen disclosed Tuesday the city had not followed the necessary steps required to find another option.

With time running out, aldermen agreed Tuesday to seek another one-year extension on the current contract.

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As a result the city’s waste collection contract could remain with Waste Pro for an additional year.

The contract originally was set to expire at the end of November 2018, but the city maintained the option to either extend or decline extension of the contract on a year-by-year basis.

In August, aldermen opted not to extend the contract meaning the current contract would end at the end of this month.

The city planned to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to seek offers from other garbage collection companies.

But the city apparently never followed through on the steps to make that happen and thus was up against an impossible deadline to locate and hire another company in approximately two weeks.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith initiated the discussion, then moving to extend the contract with Waste Pro.

“The board voted to put out an RFP, but that has yet to happen, and there’s been a deadline on that,” Smith said. “I feel that we need to extend the contract — well, see if they’ll extend it at this point and meet with them.”

After the August termination vote aldermen then considered contracting with a third-party consultant, Waste Tech, to help draft an RFP.

Later that month at the next aldermen meeting, Waste Tech representatives later came before the board to pitch their services, but upon discovering that Waste Tech typically worked with private entities and had never drafted an RFP for a municipality, the city decided to issue the RFP on its own.

Nearly three months later, aldermen at Tuesday’s meeting confessed they had not done the legwork to issue an RFP before the deadline.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said City Attorney Bob Latham had drawn up an RFP and she had received a copy of that document, but she was under the impression the aldermen had more time to carry out the process.

“I guess what I’m confused (about), I thought once you exerted your option, you were letting them know that you weren’t going to extend the contract. But even though we’ve done that, we needed to do something (about the RFP) by Nov. 30; that’s what you’re saying?” Arceneaux-Mathis asked Latham.

The attorney responded that the city needed to have the RFP published, proposals received and a final decision by Nov. 30.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “That’s my mistake.”

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said he commiserated with what Arceneaux-Mathis said.

“We’ve had so much on our tables, we hadn’t gotten to this point yet,” Dillard said.

Latham said because he notified Waste Pro the city wished to decline an extension, if the city wished to carry out an RFP now, the process would have to be fully completed by Nov. 30, when the contract is currently set to expire without an extension.

“Right now, the deadline is such that it would be difficult to issue an RFP, get the proposals in and actually make a decision,” Latham said.

Smith recommended the board meet with Waste Pro and attempt to extend the contract for another year.

The city and Waste Pro have scheduled a meeting for Monday to discuss the contract, Smith said.

Dillard made the “obvious” point that the board must do whatever is necessary to ensure the city continues to receive collection services, or else face the outcry from the community.

“I’m certainly for an extension of any kind to keep the city moving with sanitation,” Dillard said.

After discussion, the board voted unanimously in favor of Smith’s motion to extend the contract in order to carry on with a more robust RFP.

Following the vote, Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving said her constituents had notified her of many problems with garbage pickup.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell, as he has in the past, expressed concern with the company’s service, some of which he said stems from firsthand experience.

“They didn’t pick up mine last week,” Grennell said.

“There’s an issue with an inconsistent pickup. Waste Pro’s been doing this for a while now, so there shouldn’t be any kinks in the system.”

The city must meet with Waste Pro to see about extending the contract to next year.