County: Garbage contractor not meeting obligations of contract

Published 11:18 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

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NATCHEZ—The Adams County Board of Supervisors has asked its attorney, Scott Slover, to notify the county’s garbage collection contractor that they are failing to meet agreed-upon obligations.

Supervisors have been at odds over the garbage collection contract from the start. County residents have let it be known they are upset about the service they are getting from United Infrastructure and the more than double increase they are paying for those services.

On March 6, 2023, the Adams County Board of Supervisors chose United Infrastructure Services to collect garbage in a three-to-two — and unexpected — vote. The garbage collection contract was not on the county’s agenda to approve that day. However, when supervisors Kevin Wilson of District 2 and Wes Middleton of District 1 pushed back on approving the United Infrastructure contract and suggested seeking ways to decrease garbage collection costs, such as going to pick up one day a week or entertaining bids from another company, supervisors Ricky Gray of District 4, Angela Hutchins of District 3 and Warren Gaines of District 5, rushed to vote on the United Infrastructure contract.

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With the new contract, garbage pickup stayed at twice a week, but the cost to county residents for those services increased from $15 to $35 per month.

United Infrastructure is the company created from the leftovers of the now-bankrupt Metro Services, which left the county in a difficult position when it stopped collecting the county’s garbage during the Christmas season of 2022.

At Monday’s county supervisors’ meeting, county resident Nancy Saucier told supervisors she lives on a fixed income and cannot pay the increased garbage collection fees. She was adamant that she wouldn’t pay that bill until the garbage collection cost was more reasonable.

“I refuse to pay it. I’m disabled. I’m a widow and am 71 years old. I don’t make that much trash,” Saucier said. “I have talked to several other people, and they feel the same way. $35 a month is way too much for the trash … I don’t have a problem with going from $15 to $17 or $18, but $35 a month is too much. If they want to cut my water off, they can do that.

“Whoever agreed (to this garbage contract) didn’t think about all of the other disabled people and people who live on a fixed income and those who do not have jobs. COVID put a danger on everybody and they are still trying to get jobs to pay their bills,” Saucier said.

Wilson, president of the Board of Supervisors, told Saucier he agreed with her.

“I think we should have gone to once-a-week (garbage collection), and it should have been something like $17 to $20 a month, but I got outvoted on that,” Wilson said.

Saucier also complained that the garbage collectors do not always arrive on the days they are supposed to, and some weeks they do not arrive at all.

“People put their trash out there, and neighborhood dogs and wild animals get in it because it is left sitting out there when they don’t come to pick it up,” she said.

Wilson said he has received thousands of complaints from Adams County residents about garbage collection, including poor service and the cost of that service.

“I said from the beginning they were going to use the same old beat-up trucks and that’s exactly what they are doing,” Wilson said.

Earlier in June, Wilson asked Slover to go through the county’s contract with United Infrastructure to find the county’s remedies for a number of shortcomings residents are complaining to him about. Those complaints include:

— failure to pick up garbage when scheduled to do so.
— garbage being spilled into the streets from trucks.
— cans are thrown into driveways, ditches, and roads.
— garbage bags blowing out of trucks, trailers, and pickups that the company uses to haul garbage rather than garbage trucks.
— Drop boxes and convenience stations have been closed down.
— using improper and insufficient equipment to collect the garbage. The contract called for the company to have new vehicles at the start of the contract so broken-down trucks do not stall garbage collection. Wilson said the company had used regular pickup trucks and flatbed trucks rather than actual garbage trucks to collect garbage. They have also collected trash from dumpsters by putting workers down into the dumpster and throwing the trash into a garbage collection truck rather than having or using the equipment needed to empty dumpsters properly.
— failure to hire Adams County residents to collect the garbage.
— failure to pick up dead animals from the roadway as the contract calls for.
— failure to assist senior citizens and disabled county residents with the collection of garbage from a back porch, carport or other outside storage location.
Wilson also said he wants to ensure the garbage company workers are covered by workers’ compensation insurance and inspect the company’s books for proper billing practices, which Stover’s research shows is a stipulation of the contract.

After discussing it in the executive session on Monday, Gray moved to send the letter informing United Infrastructure that it may be in breach of its contract with the county. Hutchins seconded the motion, and supervisors approved that move unanimously.