County can’t afford twice-weekly garbage collection

Published 10:24 pm Sunday, March 12, 2023

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The Adams County Board of Supervisors’ three-to-two vote on Monday to grant the successor company to the now bankrupt Metro Services the county’s garbage collection contract has lots of people scratching their heads, including us.

Around Christmastime last year, the county supervisors began getting complaints from residents about the poor state of garbage collection in the county. Trash was piling up and not being picked up. The fact it was Christmastime with the abundance of packaging that goes along with that time of year simply made matters worse.

Metro Services was using garbage trucks that often broke down and were left on the side of the road, and the pickup schedule disrupted. Staffing was apparently an issue to meeting its contracted obligation to the county, as well.

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Yes, the price of gas and everything else had risen. However, a contract is a contract. Metro could have approached the county and sought to renegotiate its contract. It didn’t do that. In the meantime, the company, which is based in the New Orleans area, was having much trouble meeting its obligations in that area, as well.

Metro Services filed for reorganization under bankruptcy. It asked to be allowed to form a new company and shed its most unprofitable contracts, which included Adams County. The bankruptcy court granted the request.

The county approved an emergency contract at a greatly increased price with the new company Metro Services formed, now named United Infrastructure, to temporarily continue county trash pick up while the county sought bids on a more permanent solution.

The county received bids from Metro Services’ new company and Arrow Disposal Services Inc., which collects garbage in the City of Natchez.

ADSI offered an extremely attractive price for one-day-a-week pick up of garbage in the county and offered a 95-gallon container for residents to use to put that garbage in. The containers used in the city are much smaller than 95 gallons.

That cost would have been about $17 per residence per month for once-weekly pickup. United Infrastructure’s price for the same service was bid at $25.33 per week.

Supervisors Ricky Gray and Angela Hutchins would not even discuss taking the county from twice-a-week pickup to once-a-week. “I saw what once a week will do,” Hutchins said. “We received complaints constantly from residents about how much garbage was all over the place … Once-a-week is not a good idea.”

Supervisors Kevin Wilson and Wes Middleton argued the county cannot afford the twice a week cost for pickup and said county residents, when faced with the huge price increase for garbage collection would adapt.

The representative of ADSI said in the 11 counties in Mississippi in which he is contracted to pick up garbage, each is once-a-week pickup.

Supervisors Warren Gaines, Gray and Hutchins voted to accept the contract presented by the reformed Metro Services company United Infrastructure without further negotiating the price with the company.

We are left to ponder why the three supervisors were so dead set on United Infrastructure getting the contract? If they wanted twice-a-week garbage pickup, ADSI, which by all accounts is the more dependable and organized company, proposed a twice-a-week pickup for just 29 cents more per household than the reorganized United Infrastructure.

A representative of Metro-United was indignant that Wilson brought up its bankruptcy at the meeting, asking why did that matter?

It matters a very great deal, and all of the supervisors should realize that. The same people who operated Metro Services into bankruptcy are those who are operating United Infrastructure.

But the most important issue is with its bankruptcy, Metro Services walked away owing a number of Adams County businesses tens of thousands of dollars for fuel and repairs and other items they will never be paid.

All of the supervisors should care a great deal about that. Those Adams County businesses that are out funds it had to pay for goods and services purchased by Metro Services certainly care about it.

The county’s primary revenue stream is property taxes. Without increasing prices on taxpayers, the county gets no new funds.

County residents pay $15 per household per month for garbage collection. Unless county supervisors vote to increase that rate, which it truly has no choice but to do, the county can’t pay the additional $600,000 the new United Infrastructure contract will cost the county.

It’s either raise the cost of garbage collection or increase property taxes. Those are really the only choices the supervisors have to pay for garbage collection. Either way, county residents are going to pay more – much more.

We will see what county residents prefer when they begin getting $30-plus monthly bills for garbage collection.

We predict one-day-a-week garbage collection will look mighty good.