Daniel Lorraine

Councilman Daniel Lorraine is calling a pending new contract for garbage collection, "nothing short of a miracle."

Barring no issues from a future official council vote, beginning Jan 1, River Birch LLC will take over garbage collection in the parish, at $15.50 per household, and Lorraine said all services will remain the same.

"Signing a contract with these folks is a no-brainer. We borrowed nearly $3 million from our BP Fund so far, and probably would have to continue to do so, to keep paying for garbage collection," he said. "Now, what we collect from our seven tenths sales tax will be more than enough to pay for this."

The parish is on the last leg of a five-year contract with Progressive Waste Solutions, which expires in December. The rate per household in that contract was a base fee of $18.86 per household, adjusted per month based on the consumer price index. However, Lorraine said the parish is currently paying $20 per household.

Concerns started mounting two years ago, when the council realized it would have to start borrowing from its BP Fund, to pay for the services.

Once more, the council voted to call an election last November, to raise the .7 cents sales tax earmarked for garbage, to a full penny, in order to pay future costs.

However, that tax hike proposal was rejected by Lafourche Parish voters.

The measure failed by a vote of 13,950 against and 10,081 in favor, or 58 to 42 percent.

Lorraine, who is a member of the parish Solid Waste Committee, said the council had feared garbage collection could have dropped from two days a week to one.

"But here comes River Birch, with prices we haven't seen since 2009," he said.

River Birch LLC, the operators of the Jefferson Parish Landfill, is offering a five-year contract and unlimited bulk waste collection on the same schedule. The company will also provide new 95-gallon garbage cans for residents.

"I think this is the biggest no-brainer I have ever seen in my life," Lorraine said.

Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle said he plans to present a final contract for an official vote for the council to consider, soon.

"This is a great savings for our parish. Incredible," Cantrelle said.

The parish garbage contract is financed through a 0.7 percent sales tax that excludes the City of Thibodaux.

Councilman Jerry Jones, who is another member of the Solid Waste Committee, said River Birch is a great opportunity.

"I thank them for coming forward and submitting a bid," Jones said.

For the past several years, the solid waste sales tax collected in the parish haven't been enough to cover the current contract. Money has been pulled from the parish’s share of fine money from the 2010 BP oil spill and other sources to cover the gap.

The parish solid waste contract services nearly the whole parish including Lockport and Golden Meadow, only excluding the city limits of Thibodaux.

Under the proposal from River Birch, the new contract will be able to meet current revenues, Cantrelle said.

“During that election last fall, it was clear that people did not want to spend any more money,' he said.

Councilman Corey Perrillioux is also another member of the Solid Waste Committee, who said the committee had to only meet twice to discuss the contract.

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