County told garbage pickup should remain competitive|[02/15/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2008

In the first of what may become many sales pitches concerning garbage collection outside Vicksburg city limits, Warren County supervisors were told only retaining multiple vendors can ensure competitive rates.

Since the state enacted requirements for counties to have waste management plans, Warren County has complied by allowing private firms to collect and dispose of residential waste, pay a fee and report who their customers are so a comprehensive list can be kept. Due to problems with assuring complete coverage, supervisors have decided to talk about having one company operate countywide.

Unlike many other areas of the state, residents here are billed directly by service providers, including the county’s surcharge of $1.25 for county monitoring of compliance. In other counties, people are billed directly by counties or through water bills.

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Thursday’s discussions with a Natchez-based company indicated supervisors are willing to listen to suggestions, but will likely stop short of adopting fees or raising taxes to assure the 10,400 housing units in nonmunicipal Warren County have service.

“(Mississippi’s) per capita income is not conducive to that,” said Louis Jones, of Preferred Transport Company, a residential and commercial firm with business in Claiborne, Jefferson and Adams counties as well as Ferriday, La. The company also lists Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, Batesville Casket and Fordice Construction as customers.

Disposing of waste once collected is another matter, and his firm has financing in line to maintain a landfill capable of handling nonhazardous waste, Jones said.

“You need a Subtitle D landfill, in my opinion,” he said, referring to the federally defined collection site for routine municipal waste.

No such facility has been permitted in Warren County, nor has an application been filed to create one, said Billy Warden, chief of the Solid Waste & Mining Section for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

One, maintained by Southern Landfill Management in Jefferson County, has been re-started after being out of service for some time, Warden said.

Jones appeared before supervisors with Paul Kelly Loyacono, acting as legal adviser. The Vicksburg attorney was a partner in Warren County Waste Disposal Inc., a landfill proposed in south Warren County off Jeff Davis Road. The 10-acre site was permitted in 1986, before new state and environmental regulations took effect.

Waste Management Inc., which holds the City of Vicksburg residential contract, is the choice of most county households, reporting 4,366 customers. Individual private haulers handle pickup for another 448 customers scattered countywide.

Compliance with the local ordinance is kept through a notification system, handled by an operation headed by Warren County Volunteer Fire Chief and Environmental Officer Kelly Worthy.

Households not recorded as having paid the monthly surcharge must provide proof in writing that they are attempting to lawfully dispose of residential and commercial garbage. Permission can be given from the owner of a commercial receptacle and residents can also take it to Waste Management themselves if documented.

Tallies show 5,420 households recorded by the two firms and three private haulers as of January. That leaves 5,005 unaccounted for in terms of tracking how garbage was being disposed as required by the state.

Supervisors have announced no timetable for a decision on any changes.