City approves waste management request for proposal

Published 1:01 am Thursday, February 22, 2018

NATCHEZ — The city put some final touches Wednesday on its request for proposal for waste and recycling services it plans to issue next week.

The ongoing discussion about what to include in the RFP for waste disposal and collection for both waste and recyclables has revolved around a variety of options — including frequency of pickup, size of collection carts, who will provide those carts and how all these aspects will impact residents.

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Wednesday’s meeting involved “fine tuning,” to use the words of Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell, of the RFP draft. This process involved eliminating some prior considerations, such as including the option for a recycling subscription service.

The justification for a subscription stemmed from the relatively low number of active recyclers in the city — approximately 1,000 residents the previous recycling contractor Waste Pro data indicated. But Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith said the board should be wary that a subscription service could limit the future expansion of recycling in Natchez.

“I think from a standpoint of truly growing recycling and becoming a recycling community, it limits what we can do,” Smith said.

Smith said this method would be more costly for those who decided to subscribe since the collector would still need to cover the entire city logistically, and a cap on who is able to recycle could result.

“I feel like we’re kind of limiting, socioeconomically, who can recycle if we do it that way,” Smith said.

Grennell agreed, and the board came to a consensus to strip the subscription option from the RFP.

“My position is go city-wide instead of the subscription service and just do our very best to educate people,” Grennell said.

The discussion later turned toward frequency of pickup, specifically between merits of both once and twice weekly trash collection. Proponents of going to once-a-week collection, such as Smith, have pointed to the potential savings. She also noted Wednesday that if residents begin to recycle more and in a proper manner, they should see their total waste accumulation drop.

Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving, however, said her constituents have voiced opposition to reducing garbage collection to just once weekly.

“I’ve had several neighborhood watch meetings, and what the residents left with me was that ‘We would still like to remain with the twice-a-week pickup.” Irving said. “There are some areas now, even with twice-a-week (collection), that you can go in and you still see lots of trash — I mean just overflow.”

Grennell said the options would present challenges either way, but also that the aldermen could weigh the pros and cons once they receive all the proposals.

The RFP has been assembled to allow multiple bids on all sorts of different aspects pertaining to waste and recycling, essentially allowing the city to handpick which services will be most beneficial.

At that point, Grennell said, the decision would likely hinge heavily upon the expected costs residents would have to bear for each option.

“Let’s hypothetically say that (the bids) come in significantly high on twice-a-week,” Grennell said. “We may decide that that’s cost-prohibitive to our residents, therefore we’ll have to look at that once-a-week and make sure that it’s something that’s affordable for the citizens of Natchez.”

The board also discussed size of receptacles and who would be responsible for providing them. One main change implemented Wednesday was the elimination of the 35-gallon option for recycling containers, instead requesting bids for 65-gallon carts.

Smith reasoned that the 35-gallon option would inhibit the city from attaining certain grant funds for which only cities that provided containers of 60 gallons are larger could qualify.

As for trash, some options have either 65-gallon carts provided to citizens, while others would have residents be responsible for providing their own containers of up to 95 gallons.

Though including an option for having 95-gallon carts provided to residents had been discussed in the past, Grennell opposed concept.

“Moving to a 95-gallon cart, in my opinion, would not be a good thing for the city,” Grennell said. “There are elderly people who couldn’t handle those larger carts. The 65- (gallon cart) is sufficient.”

The aforementioned changes will be added to a final version of the RFP, which aldermen voted to issue at Tuesday’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

The city’s goal has been to have a new contract awarded in March, though a temporary emergency contract with Waste Pro currently in effect gives the city through the end of May at the latest to complete the process.