NEW ORLEANS — Trash stinks and apparently so does the process of bringing new trash haulers on board in the city of New Orleans.
Next Monday – IV Waste and Waste Pro are expected to take over collections in parts of the city, mostly north of I-10, where the garbage is now picked up by Metro Service Group.
Thursday, the city council by a 3-3 vote with one member absent decided not to allocate $2.5 million to fund the new contracts through the end of the year.
“I’m very concerned about paying two sanitation contracts simultaneously,” City Council VP J.P. Morrell said. “Contrary to popular belief, as we go through this budget process, the city is not made of money.”
Last month, Metro filed for bankruptcy which automatically forbids the city from terminating the company's contract. Thursday morning a bankruptcy judge said she would take up the city’s request to lift the stay on January 12. In the meantime, the city would have to continue to pay Metro along with the new contractors.
The total cost to taxpayers, $900,000 a month for Metro a combined $1.6 million a month for IV Waste and Waste Pro.
“On November 7, when Waste Pro and IV start hitting the streets, what does Metro do, follow behind them,” City Council President Helena Moreno asked.
City Sanitation Director Matt Torri told her, “In a scenario on solid waste collection in the half of the area that Metro, you’re right, is currently picking up from, there is a scenario where two different company’s trucks might drive by a house on the same day.”
In a statement, Metro spokesman Greg Beuerman said in part, “Today’s council vote demonstrates the colossal mess the administration continues to make of its sanitation program. However, regardless of how the vote might have played out, Metro would still be on the streets on Monday to honor its commitment to the people of New Orleans.”
Torri said that could result in twice a week pickup for some.
“You very well could have scenarios where you have residents receiving twice a week trash collection as ironic as that is.”
Torri also said the city will find a way to pay the new contractors. Council President Moreno filed a budget ordinance that calls for the new sanitation contracts to come up for another vote in two weeks.
She released a statement saying, “This is a complete mess, and the Council is stuck in the middle. We all want improved service, but we also need to ensure we’re not throwing the public’s money in the garbage. I had asked for a two-week deferral to allow for a little more time for the City to work toward a settlement. That motion failed and then so did the ordinance. I have filed a new budget ordinance to consider in two weeks, which accomplishes the same as deferral, and hopefully the City will have more information on potential settlement on this matter and we can move forward on funding the amount necessary.”
Here is Metro’s full statement:
“Today’s council vote demonstrates the colossal mess the administration continues to make of its sanitation program. However, regardless of how the vote might have played out, Metro would still be on the streets on Monday to honor its commitment to the people of New Orleans. Metro will continue to abide by its contract with the City, even if the administration continues to fail to reciprocate.
As we look toward collections on Monday and beyond, taxpayers should be reminded that through the administration’s widely publicized intention to sideline Metro and engage other sanitation providers at much higher costs, Metro lost scores of longtime employees who were led to believe employment opportunities were more sustainable elsewhere. Short staffed or not, Metro has no hesitation in continuing its work in service to the city.”