Garbage can inventory to take time, Vicksburg officials say

Published 4:56 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

The City of Vicksburg’s inventory of city-owned garbage cans continues and could take some time before it’s completed, the city’s water and gas administrator said.

“It’s a slow process,” said Malinda Hill, water and gas administration manager, pointing out that the city has more than 10,000 utility customers, including some customers who live outside the city limits and receive city utilities.

“We have to verify each account, each active service for the city,” Hill said. “We’re just getting started.”

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. ordered the inventory after the city signed a new contract with Houston, Texas-based Waste Management that featured a large increase in fees charged to the city. Flaggs said he wanted to know exactly how many customers the city has.

One of Flaggs’ complaints was some city garbage customers had more than one trash container. He said the extra cans increased the contract cost.

He said in an Oct. 21 article on garbage collection that the inventory and an assessment of the city’s contract with Waste Management indicated the city was charged for garbage collected outside the city limits.

Hill said an inventory confirmed the city was billed for trash collected from homes on Abraham and Boykin drives off Paxton Road in the county. The city has not confirmed any other county collections as of Friday.

Waste Management has not responded to emailed questions concerning the company’s new trucks, complaints from residents that they were not notified of the new trucks and whether the company charged the city for trash collections made in the county.

Hill said the inventory process involves going out to a location and verifying the number of cans there based on what is shown in the account.

Whether any cans are collected, she said, depends on what is found. If a customer is supposed to have one city can and has multiple city cans, the extra cans are collected if it is feasible.

“If they’re loaded with garbage, we may let the garbage truck dump them first and then retrieve them,” she said. “It just depends on the situation at that time.”

Hill said the city is not issuing new cans.

“The cans are the original cans; if you have a can, you will not receive a new can,” she said.

The only new cans are the red cans for downtown and the brown cans. If a person’s account shows they were to have two green cans, one will be replaced by a brown can. Green cans will not be replaced unless they are damaged beyond repair, Hill said.

“Most times they just need a repair or something of that nature,” she said.

She pointed out that the cans are offered by the city to the customers and citizens free of charge.

“There is no charge for the container. So if there’s damage beyond repair, we will replace it for you. If it is stolen or something of that nature you do have to fill out a police report before I can issue you another.”

The city’s community service workers have been performing the garbage can inventory and delivering new cans. On Wednesday, the city increased the number of boots on the ground when it approved a resolution to use AmeriCorps volunteers to look for debris piles and help with the garbage can inventory. AmeriCorps will not be delivering cans.

Any information gathered by AmeriCorps workers, Community Development Director Jeff Richardson said, will be sent to the proper department — debris piles to the Action Line and information on garbage cans to water and gas.

Vicksburg residents have been using city-issued garbage cans since 2002.

City Purchasing Director Ann Grimshal said the city buys the 96-gallon containers in bulk, purchasing 100-200 cans at a time from Toter Inc./Wastequip LLC of Charlotte N.C. The most recent order is for 300, which will be delivered to the city’s community service warehouse for storage until they can be distributed.

She said the price of the can varies by color, adding, “A 96-gallon can at Home Depot is $137.36. Ours is lot less than that.”

“This is a company we have dealt with since we started,” Grimshal said. “It goes back to about 2002 or so. They’re good cans. They put our city emblem and number on them for us for free. They don’t charge us for that. And when you start out with another company, you’ve got to start all over again.”

Under the program, all residential customers are issued a single green can. If more than one can is needed, an additional brown garbage can will be supplied to residences. To get a brown can, an individual must come in, sign for it and accept the additional $16.95 per month fee.

Small businesses located outside of the downtown area will also receive a single green garbage can and up to three additional brown garbage cans if needed.

In the downtown area, business owners are eligible to receive up to four red garbage containers.

According to the city’s policy, all garbage and trash must be in a city-issued container. Anything in a container that is not in a city-issued container will not be collected.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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