City defers action on waste collection, recycling RFP

Published 12:39 am Wednesday, February 28, 2018


NATCHEZ — Natchez aldermen deferred action Tuesday on the city’s waste and recycling situation to allow more time for review as the city’s preferred deadline to begin formally accepting collection proposals nears.

Natchez aldermen viewed the latest iteration of a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the city’s waste and recycling services at Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

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Aldermen aimed to publish the RFP and award a contract by the end of March, four months after the city entered into an emergency contract with Waste Pro USA.

The emergency contract was required after the city chose not to renew its original agreement with Waste Pro; then failed to seek new proposals in time to legally enter into a new agreement.

When the emergency agreement was signed, however the city gave itself an extra two months of breathing room, meaning the city has until the end of May to complete the process.

City Planner Riccardo Giani presented certain minor revisions made since he presented the last draft of the RFP last Wednesday.

But during Tuesday’s meeting Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard expressed some concern over certain aspects of the most recent RFP, which Giani said was placed in the aldermen’s inboxes the morning of the meeting.

Dillard’s concern stemmed in part from the provisions for entering a contract with a materials recovery facility (MRF), which would handle the city’s recyclables similarly to how a landfill handles the city’s garbage.

He specifically took issue with a clause the said if the MRF’s cost of processing mixed paper exceeds its value, “the MRF may deposit those materials in Riverbend Landfill at cost to the city.”

Dillard said he believes the RFP as currently crafted would grant whoever becomes the handler of recyclables too much leverage over the city.

“Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?” Dillard asked Giani. “The city has no management over the cost of these recyclables or the cost of these processes or any other cost, for that matter of fact, that by entering into this contract, they’re holding the city accountable and liable for it.

Giani responded that what Dillard had mentioned would be a “worst-case scenario,” but also that he was willing to revise that portion of the RFP if the board wishes.

“Of course, I wouldn’t mean to extend any of the city’s liability,” Giani said.

Giani has said the MRF would ideally hedge against the volatility of the market for commodities by enacting a fixed processing cost and, whenever the commodities market improves, potentially enabling the city to receive rebates down the road.

The board decided to defer action so officials had more time to review the document.

Later in the meeting, the Rev. James Brooks voiced concern about the possibility of reducing waste collection from twice a week to just once.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell responded that the RFP would contain a variety of different options — including frequency of pickup for both waste and recycling — on which companies would be required to bid. The city would then, Grennell said, review proposals and make a decision by weighing cost to residents against what residents hope to see in terms of collection.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said the city has much to consider in terms of ensuring that collection is frequent enough to appease residents and keep their neighborhoods clean.

Unless a special call meeting occurs some time in the next two weeks, the city is next scheduled to go over the RFP at its regularly scheduled March 13 meeting. Though three aldermen — Arceneaux-Mathis, Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier and Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving — will be in Washington, D.C., the entirety of that week, officials plan to achieve a quorum by having at least one alderman participate via telephone.