Acadia jurors raising stink over trash collection change
Steve Bandy /Crowley Post-Signal
An apparent new policy instituted by the parish waste collection contractor has police jurors up in arms.
Beginning in May, drivers for Waste Connections, Inc., stopped emptying more than two carts per residence.
The problem, according to jurors, is that, in most cases, the numerous carts represent multiple residences or residences and in-home businesses.
David Savoy, police jury president, told members of the jury’s Solid Waste Committee that there are three trailers, a shop and a processing plant on his property. Four carts were lined up on collection day the the driver emptied only two.
“I went and caught him and explained the situation and he told me he was instructed to pick up only two at each residence,” Savoy said. “The problem is, they’re not even checking.”
Dustin Fortenberry, district manager for Waste Connections, explained that the company has seen “a drastic increase” in the number of homes with more than two carts.
“I believe this is largely due to the fact that we delivered all new carts — the blue ones — early last year and were requested to return many of the collected green carts back to residents,” Fortenberry explained.
“So, for example, if a resident had two green carts and we delivered a blue and took a green, then had to return the green per the request of the parish, they would then have three carts.”
Some jurors speculated that this new policy is retribution for the fines the parish is deducting from WCI’s monthly invoice for missed pick-ups. To date, the parish has withheld about $133,000 in fines.
“And we’re being very lenient with the fines,” said Secretary-Treasurer A.J. “Fatty” Broussard.
According to the contract, that money would be paid to the company if the company can prove, through the use of its on-truck cameras.
“They have access to all the equipment they need to prove we’re wrong,” said Donna Bertrand, who handles the complaints and billing related to WCI.”
“The way the contract is written, the burden is on them to prove that they are entitled to these liquidated damages,” explained Doug Wimberly, litigation attorney for the parish and the attorney who handled the contract negotiations on behalf of the parish. “It has worked. We have released money to them when they prove a complaint invalid.”
The Parish contract (section 2.4) allows Waste Connections the opportunity to bill residents directly for anything over two carts, according to Fortenberry.
“While I respect the opinion that this is related to the outstanding funds being withheld by the parish, it simply isn’t the case,” he said. “The funding withheld is with our legal team and is being handled directly by them.
“This effort to increase billings above two carts is completely unrelated. This is simply to cover the added time we are starting to see on routes due to the additional carts per home being serviced.”
Wimberly recommended that the parish staff compile a comprehensive list of grievances before another meeting is held with WCI officials.
“We’re just over a year into the contract and there are still some areas that are lacking,” he said.
The contract with WCI was signed in March, 2018.
Wimberly acknowledged that the contract guaranteed pick-up of two carts per residence with any additional carts to be serviced at a cost of $12 per cart per month.
“If there are more than two carts at the road, it’s only logical to assume that there has been some kind of arrangement for them to be there,” said Savoy. “They should be picked up.”
Some jurors also stated that they’ve had reports of some carts — mainly the green carts — being dropped into the back of the garbage truck.
“Carts that no longer have structural integrity to be dumped often fall into the collection portion of our equipment,” Fortenberry explained. “Those addresses are recorded by the driver and turned in to have a cart replacement delivered.”