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Garbage Rates Could Increase

By David Howell


WATER VALLEY – Garbage customers in the county could see a rate increase next year following a request from Waste Management for a $1.38 monthly increase per can starting in April when the new contract year begins. 

Supervisors learned of the requested increase during a recessed meeting last Friday at the Water Valley courthouse after Waste Management representative Greg Miley provided an explanation for a letter his company sent to the county initially indicating the company would discontinue curbside garbage pickup when the contract ends on March 31, 2017.

Miley explained his company had crunched the numbers following a request last month from the county to see if the current rate of $12.03 per month per can could remain the same in the coming year. He was referring to a request from Board President Cayce Washington to see if Waste Management would waive the annual increase triggered by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which would lock in the monthly cost for the coming year. Miley also said Friday that the actual amount of the CPI increase will not be known until April. In the last three years, the increase has averaged just over 10 cents per year. 

“It didn’t look good,” Miley explained about the company’s number crunching, figures that apparently prompted the sharp response from Waste Management that the company would pull out of the county at the end of the contractual year. Miley also said he was able to negotiate the $1.38 increase, from $12.03 to $13.41 after further discussions within the company. 

Miley also indicated the county had the authority to renegotiate the contract with Waste Management instead of placing the entire job out for bids. “But if you put it out for proposals, we are going to put in a competitive bid,” Miley added.

Washington accepted responsibility for reaching out to the company last month when he asked if the company would be willing to waive the annual CPI increase authorized in the contract.

“I think it deserves to be said, I will shoulder some of this responsibility. I was trying to understand if we could look at options in the future about fixing the cost,” Washington explained. “I don’t think anyone here, me included, said we are tired of Waste Management. I was just trying to see what I could do to protect the consumer.”

Washington added that he was very satisfied with the company’s service in the county, as did other supervisors during the 20-minute discussion about the matter.

Company Didn’t Give Adequate Notice

Citing the terms of the contract, Board attorney John Crow advised supervisors that Waste Management didn’t give the county 180 days notice prior to March 31, 2017, notice that was required if the company planned to terminate or change the contract. Crow added that the letter was dated October 1, which would have complied with the 180 day requirement, but was not delivered to the county until later in the month. 

“We can’t bid it out, unless you release us and we release you,” Crow explained about the terms.  “Without the proper notice, the contract is automatically renewed.”

Following Crow’s input, supervisors authorized him to discuss the contract with Waste Management attorneys.

Waste Management started picking up garbage for county residents in 2013, taking over after supervisors fielded complaints for years about the previous company’s service. Waste Manage-ment initially bid $11.71 per can, per month. Since then the cost has climbed to $12.03 per month, increases that came from the annual CPI increase authorized in the contract.

The county currently charges customers $13 per month, and Washington explained at Friday’s meeting that the additional cost includes overhead for operating the garbage department, including the salary of a garbage clerk. He also cited the longstanding problem of some customers not paying, making it more difficult to cash flow the garbage department. State law requires the county to pick up garbage for each residence, even if the account is delinquent. 

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