Waste proposals revealed

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 12, 2018

NATCHEZ — Natchez’s new waste hauler submitted the second-lowest proposal among competitors who vied for the city’s latest contract.

The bid information became public Friday after weeks of being sealed from public view, bringing to light what exactly the five companies proposed.

Arrow Disposal Service Inc. received the contract for twice weekly garbage pickup and weekly recycling collection at a combined monthly rate of $17.34 per residence. This contractual rate is $0.50 less than Arrow actually bid, as the city was able to negotiate a slightly better deal with the company. Another $1 will be tacked on to cover costs of mosquito control.

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Waste Pro USA, who has serviced the city for the past several years, bid $16.20 to provide the same frequency of services.

In order of price, the remaining companies bids were as followed:

* Red River Waste Solutions bid $15.33, though the company did not bid on recycling collection;
* Metro Service Group bid $24.29 for garbage and recycling; and
* Waste Management bid $23.91, also for both garbage and recycling

Each company also bid on weekly trash and recycling collection, though the city elected not to go this route of reducing trash collection. In that scenario, ADSI proposed a monthly charge of $15.45, while Waste Pro would have charged $12.80.

Though an important factor, price would not solely determine who received the contract, Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said.

“We said from the start that the lowest bid may not get the contract,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

Despite the lower bid, Arceneaux-Mathis said concerns from her constituents about Waste Pro’s quality of service tipped the scales away from the company. Simply put, residents complained often about their trash remaining on the curb on pickup day — sometimes throughout a whole week.

“We had a problem with service. A lot of my constituents were calling about service,” she said. “When they put the trash out, sometimes (Waste Pro) would not pick it up.”

Additionally, Arceneaux-Mathis said she did not wish to reduce pickup to once a week based on feedback from citizens in her ward, despite the lower costs associated with that option.

Though the collection costs increased just less than $4 from the city’s last contract with Waste Pro, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith — also the city’s utilities chair — said she knew all along that a rate hike was in store this go-round.

“Waste Pro had definitely low-balled the other bidders last time, and because of that they got the contract,” Smith said. “That’s probably what led to some of the problems we had with quality.”

Smith said she still wishes the city could have moved to weekly trash collection not only to keep costs lower, but also to prevent wear and tear on streets and be friendlier to the environment.

Additionally, she said the city should have discussed the process of choosing a hauler more openly.

“I think that would have saved the public from so much mistrust on the process had they had this information earlier,” Smith said.

Leaders held several closed-door discussions leading up to the decision, citing statutes that they claimed obligated them to keep the proposals private.

Smith, however, objected to one of the board’s final closed-door executive sessions in a meeting earlier this month. Her vote to discuss the matter openly failed by a vote of 1-5.

Now, Smith said she wonders what people’s wishes would have been if they were able to see on paper the cost differential between once and twice weekly trash pickup.

ADSI is set to begin collection on June 1. The city is expected to soon announce on what date Waste Pro will collect their carts from residents.

All of the proposals are now available to the public in the planning office upstairs at City Hall, 124 S. Pearl St.