Laf. trash collector promises improvements

Going for the Gold
August 23, 2012
NSU rededicates Calecas Hall; to house 100 students
August 23, 2012
Going for the Gold
August 23, 2012
NSU rededicates Calecas Hall; to house 100 students
August 23, 2012

A division manager with Lafourche Parish’s garbage-collection contractor repented at last week’s council meeting, admitting to and vowing to rectify several solid-waste issues.

Robert Stesney, manager of Progressive Waste Solutions, addressed the council for about 45 minutes, per a request from Councilman Michael Delatte. Other councilmen lobbed complaints at Stesney about garbage collection in the parish, accusing the contractor of regularly skipping streets and missing pick-ups.

Stesney said new employees have struggled to master the routes and that an abundance of green waste and debris has slowed crews down in the summer heat.

“We know there are some issues,” Stesney said. “It’s pretty extensive, (the amount of waste) out there.”

Progressive Waste Solutions handles garbage collection for Terrebonne and Lafourche and employs 57 people, all from the two parishes, Stesney said. Eleven of the company’s 15 Lafourche Parish residential drivers are new hires, he added.

Stesney said an uptick in activity related to the oil fields has resulted in turnover inside the company. Progressive is also short on “hoppers,” who ride on the backs of trucks and need to be relieved through crew changes in the summer months. Finally, he said the rainy summer has produced more foliage waste.

After reading from a prepared statement, Council Chairman Joe Fertitta moved to give the company 60-days notice that the parish would terminate the contract in lieu of comprehensive collection. Fertitta said waste collection should be behind only drainage and road maintenance on the parish’s priority list.

Councilman John Arnold seconded the motion, but it was tabled after discussion.

“There’s not a heck of a lot of (other) companies out there,” Parish President Charlotte Randolph said.

Councilman Phillip Gouaux said the “mere fact” that Stesney addressed the council and accepted blame is indicative that the company will work to quell issues, and Councilman Daniel Lorraine said relaying complaints to Progressive has reduced miscues in his district.

Councilman Jerry LaFont campaigned last year in part on finding a solution to garbage cans and lids winding up in ditches and impeding proper drainage. LaFont said the parish should purchase uniform garbage cans for all parish residents – as is the case in Terrebonne – to replace the various cans, which in several cases include 55-gallon drums.

“Down the bayou, that seems to be the best garbage can there is,” LaFont said. He said uniform cans would cost the parish about half a million dollars.

Progressive, then known as SWDI – IESI, landed the parish’s waste-disposal contract in March of 2011 with a bid estimate of $4,127.40 per week, or roughly $215,000 per year. The contract expires at the end of 2013.

Better Waste Disposal’s bid was roughly $205,000 in expenses per year, and Waste Management’s bid was about $310,000 each year.

“I’m just as upset as everyone else,” Stesney said. “When this is all over, we’re going to sit down, have a drink and smile about it.”

Council closes case on

contractor without a license

A council resolution that would request a district attorney’s opinion on whether the parish could recoup payments to a contractor who did $80,000 worth of work without a state license failed last week.

The dual-pronged resolution would have also requested the DA’s opinion on “what can be done to this Administration by allowing this to happen.”

With Councilman Lindel Toups absent, the eight votes were split down the middle. Councilmen Jerry Jones, Joe Fertitta, Jerry LaFont and Daniel Lorraine voted in favor of requesting the opinion.

Pollard Roofing LLC, based in Patterson, worked various projects with the parish from 2011 until the council terminated the agreement last month. The company tallied $80,000 worth of work in that timeframe, said Lorraine, who sponsored the resolution.

In June, the council unanimously voted to extend the parish’s contract with Pollard for work through the Home NOFA Award Homeowner-Occupied Rehabilitation Grant. Prior to the vote, LaFont pointed out that Pollard was not licensed with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors.

Still, the council approved the contract amendment, as Parish President Charlotte Randolph said the contract would be void should the allegation turn out to be true.

Councilmen Phillip Gouaux and John Arnold said they opposed the resolution because they don’t think the money should be recouped. It doesn’t make sense to demand a refund “if the contractor did the work and we have no problems with it,” Gouaux said.

Lorraine said after the meeting he would reintroduce the resolution before the full council.