Posted on July 30, 2010 at 9:56 PM
SDT, the garbage company contracted by the city to clean up the French Quarter, says tourists and residents are in for a smelly surprise beginning Sunday, August 1.
That lemony fresh scent will be sprayed no longer in the French Quarter and Central Business District. Daily pressure cleanings will also be reduced to just every three days on Bourbon, Royal, Charter, and Decatur streets. Plus, mechanical and manual sweeping in the French Quarter will now be limited to just the area between Canal, Bourbon, St. Ann, and Decatur streets.
"Those are the things we can no longer afford to do if we cannot be paid for what we're contracted to be paid for," said Sidney Torres, owner of SDT Waste & Debris.
Torres says his company only gets paid for servicing 2,911 addresses, even though, he says, the city admitted on Friday SDT is really picking up trash for 4,062 eligible addresses.
"All we're asking them is pay us for what [the city is] acknowledging and we'll continue to work with [the city] until we get this right and nothing will change."
Torres says the city refused, while the city says Torres walked away from the negotiations. Regardless of who you believe, SDT says many of the extras that helped clean up the French Quarter's reputation after Hurricane Katrina will soon be swept away.
Most noticeably, the garbage company will once again refuse to voluntarily pick up trash at businesses and apartment complexes that should technically pay for their own trash contracts. At roughly 6,000 locations, SDT says it will now leave the trash right where it is and mark it with bright orange X's, just as it did last year during previous negotiations with the city.
"It's important to us as business owners that this area smell nice and seems fresh," said Heidi Young, owner of the 713 Gallery on Royal Street.
Late Friday, Deputy Mayor of Operations Greg St. Etienne released a statement saying, “We cannot continue to overspend on sanitation collection contracts...SDT was overpaid for the first two years of their contract by more than $1 million dollars.”
After reading the city’s response, Torres said he is fuming, adding it is the city who owns him several million dollars. Per request by the Nagin administration, Torres says for the last 3 years his company has picked up all the trash throughout the French Quarter and Central Business District, even though about half that load was coming from businesses and duplexes that should be paying for their own trash collection. While Torres plans to discontinue trash pick up to those addresses beginning Sunday, the Landrieu administration says it plans to step in to pick up the garbage for the subsequent 15 days.