City garbage collection rate to increase $2 per month beginning Aug. 1

Published 1:49 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Natchez residents will see their garbage collection rates increase beginning Aug. 1 from $22.17 to $24.15 per month per household.

The increase in rates is based on the Consumer Price Index and is measured in May of each year, according to the city’s garbage collection contract with Arrow Disposal Services, City Clerk Megan McKenzie told the city’s board of aldermen at its meeting Tuesday night.

“So, we are not just sitting here raising rates. It’s in the previous contract and is something that had to be done because of the cost of living and the rising cost of doing business,” said Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier.

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Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the city’s contract with Arrow Disposal expires in May 2024.

“We are looking at some alternatives moving forward,” Gibson said. “We have a few months before this contract comes up in May of next year, not to say we won’t stay with Arrow. They do a good job, but we have alternatives to consider because we want the best services for our citizens.”

The mayor has mentioned in two previous meetings that his friend, Vidalia, La., Mayor Buz Craft, has told him Vidalia’s operation of its own garbage collection department as opposed to contracting those services with a private business has benefitted the town residents, offering better services at a cost savings to residents. Gibson has said all options available for garbage collection will be considered.

Earlier in the meeting Tuesday, the city held a public hearing for input from residents on properties determined to be in violation of city standards for property. Following the public hearing, aldermen unanimously approved moving forward with the adjudication process on 12 properties determined to be in violation of one or more property standards, which include grass and weeds over 12 inches in height, failure to maintain the exterior of the building, vehicles parked beyond 72 hours, dangerous structures, offensive accumulations or failure to screen unsightly items. Properties to be adjudicated include:

• 53 Brenham Ave., dangerous structure

• 1315 Garden St., dangerous structure, grass and weeds

• 9 Government Fleet Road, dangerous structure, grass and weeds

• 107 B Jackson St., dangerous structure, grass and weeds

• 301 Madison St., dangerous structure

• 504 Madison St., grass and weeds

• 20 Minor St., grass and weeds

• 119 Monmouth St., grass and weeds

• 501 N. Pearl St., grass and weeds

• 229 Oakland Drive, grass and weeds and offensive accumulation

• 2816 Roselawn Drive, grass and weeds

• 500 West Stiers Lane, grass and weeds

In other business Tuesday night:

• Aldermen approved funding allocation from the state of $500,000 for Phase 1 of the Concord Avenue drainage project and $500,000 for several other drainage projects, including West Stiers Lane and Roselawn drainage projects.

• Aldermen approved moving forward with improvements to the Natchez Police Department building on Devereux Drive in the base bid amount of $113,800 from Smith Painting, despite the strong protest from Ward 2 Alderman Billie Jo Frazier.

Community Development Director James Johnston said the funds to do the renovation work would come from the city’s bond funds.

“Spending this money on renovation of this police department is spending taxpayer money on a building that is already in terrible shape. It was a telephone company and was made into a jail in a hurry… We could have taken this money and given police officers a raise. In a matter of years, this whole building will be falling down. This is totally unacceptable to me,” Frazier said.

Ward 3 Aldermen Sarah Carter Smith said it is the city’s responsibility to maintain its buildings.

“I understand what she is saying, but we are wasting taxpayer money on that building. We have spent too much on that building as it is,” Frazier said.

Aldermen Billie Joe Frazier and Felicia Bridgewater Irving voted against the renovation work. Aldermen Valencia Hall, Sarah Carter Smith, Ben Davis and Curtis Moroney voted in favor of the work.

• Approved spending up to $500,000 in state funds allocated for design phase one for the lighting of the Mississippi River Bridge.

“It is not going to be as bright as (former Mayor) Butch (Brown) had it, but it is going to be a soft and elegant glow and will be environmentally friendly. We are work with individuals now who are experts on bird migration and are looking at what other communities have done with their bridges during bird migration seasons and there are various strategies and timing issues and limiting the time bridges are lit during those seasons and we are very sensitive to those issues,” Gibson said.

• Approved applying for Mississippi Department of Archives and History grant funds to improve, renovate and preserve the Angelety House, built in 1840. The grant would require a minimum of a 20 percent grant match by the city.

Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Bridgewater-Irving thanked Jody Rudder, city inspector, for putting a tarp on the building and to protect the building from further damage.

“This is good news,” Irving said.