In three-to-two vote, county chooses successor to bankrupt Metro Services for garbage collection; collection will remain twice weekly but at huge rate increase

Published 12:20 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

NATCHEZ — In a three-to-two vote, the Adams County Board of Supervisors chose United Infrastructure Services for its garbage collection on Monday.

Garbage will continue to be picked up twice a week in the county, but at an enormous price increase.

United Infrastructure Services is the new company formed by the now bankrupt Metro Services, which the county contracted with previously for garbage collection services.

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The garbage collection issue was not on the county’s Monday agenda. However, since representatives from each company vying for the contract were present at the meeting, the supervisors chose to make their decision.

To begin the discussion at the meeting, Supervisor Ricky Gray moved that the contract for garbage collection services go to United Infrastructure Services and its bid for twice-weekly garbage collection.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins seconded Gray’s motion.

Arrow Disposal Services, the other company that bid for the contract, currently is contracted with the City of Natchez for its garbage collection.

United Infrastructure turned in a bid to the county proposing one-day-per-week pickup in the amount of $25.33 per month per resident. It proposed two-day-a-week pickup for $26.66 per month per resident.

Arrow Disposal, also known as ADSI, proposed the county move to one-day-per-week pickup at a rate of $17.45 per month, which would include a 95-gallon container for each residence to hold the garbage. ADSI’s price for twice-a-week pickup was $26.95 per residence per month, a difference of only 29 cents per residence per month from the bid United Infrastructure submitted.

Hutchins was adamant that garbage collections not change from twice weekly to only once per week.

“A couple of y’all have ruled out altogether one-day pickup and are not even looking at what the cost to the county is,” Supervisor Kevin Wilson said.

“I really believe that people will adapt to the one-time-per-week pickup versus the two-times-a-week pickup because of the cost involved to the county. And, where is the money going to come from?” Wilson asked.

The additional cost to stay at twice-a-week collection to the county is $600,000 per year.

Richard Urrutia, president and CEO of Arrow Disposal, who was present at Monday’s meeting, said his firm contracts with a number of counties in the state, including neighboring Lincoln County, all of which use only weekly garbage collection.

Hutchins strongly disagreed.

“I saw what once a week will do. We received complaints constantly from residents about how much garbage was all over the place. There is no way we should go back to once a week. There is no way we can do that and think they will adapt to that.  Once a week is not a good idea,” she said.

Hutchins said county residents have told her they would rather pay more and keep twice-a-week garbage collection.

Wilson continued to ask how the county would pay for such a huge increase in garbage collection fees. County Attorney Scott Slover, without detailing them, told Wilson a number of ways exist to pay for the price increase. However, the most likely scenario is that the county will have to pass that increase on to county residents who receive the services.

Wilson also questioned whether the new company formed from the now defunct Metro Services could handle the contract and whether it should be given the contract.

“We are looking at a Chapter 11 bankruptcy coming from Metro. Will you be using the same trucks that were always breaking down and had to be towed and worked on by mechanics?” Wilson asked.

One of the representatives of the newly formed company, United Infrastructure, objected to Wilson’s discussion of its prior company’s bankruptcy.

Wilson pointed out the bankruptcy is a matter of public record.

“Everybody in the county knows, as well as the State of Louisiana, that you filed bankruptcy. A lot of people in this county have suffered badly from this. Lots of companies in this county lost a lot because of that bankruptcy,” Wilson said. “If you are going to use the same trucks that were breaking down and had to be towed, tell me, how is the deal (you are proposing) better than their deal?”

Supervisor Wes Middleton said his constituents want to go to one-day-per-week pickup because of the significantly increased costs they will face to continue with twice-weekly pickup.

“The people of District 1 voted me to represent them. I have received six phone calls and every one was in favor of one day a week. We’ve got to cuts costs somewhere. There is an increase coming to the county and to the residents,” he said. “I want to say on the record we should go to once-weekly pickup.”

In the event, Supervisors Warren Gaines, Angela Hutchins and Gray voted to award the contract with United Infrastructure Services for garbage collection two times per week. Wilson and Middleton voted nay.