McComb selectmen extended the city’s contract with Waste Management Tuesday night, but not without dealing with controversy and opposition.
Under the terms of the contract, the company asked to extend its services for one year, moving its expiration from Feb. 28, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, at the current price.
That, on its own, prompted no quibbles from board members.
However, board members received a letter from the McComb Housing Authority seeking permission to opt out because the authority needs to lower its costs.
Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said that request is problematic, because the authority’s 416 units are part of the existing contract’s housing count, on which the collection rate is based.
If the city extended the contract but let the authority opt out, “who’s going to pay that difference?” Lockley asked. The $19.03 monthly rate for the 416 units would total almost $95,000.
Board attorney Angela Cockerham said there are attorney general’s opinions which allow the city to charge residents for garbage collection whether they use the service or not, and Lockley said the city could continue to bill the housing authority if the contract was extended and the authority was not allowed to opt out.
However, Lockley said the authority’s board attorney, Ashley Atkinson, had told the city the housing authority would refuse to pay the billed amounts.
The mayor said the authority had already begun a trial period of service by Waste Pro, with large collection bins on the authority’s property.
Board members questioned whether that might be a violation of city ordinance, with some saying they thought the bins had been outlawed due to trash strewn around the bins becoming a health and safety hazard, and being placed where collection trucks had a hard time reaching them.
Lockley said such an ordinance, if it is on the books, would apply only to the housing authority. Some other housing complexes in the city do have their own garbage collection contracts which utilize the large bins.
City administrator Dirkland Smith said Wednesday he had not yet found whether that ordinance is on the books.
“What happens if we don’t extend this contract?” Selectman Ronnie Brock asked.
“Then our contract will end in February and we will need to get ready to advertise for bids,” Lockley said.
He said if the city opted to end its participation in the contract, the price for collection would likely go up.
The city participates in the contract with the county and with Magnolia, Summit and Osyka. The collection rate is based on all homes in the county.
Lockley said if the city pulled out of the joint contract it would have a significantly smaller housing count on its own, for which a waste collection company might charge more to serve, depending on factors such as distances trucks would need to travel to collect garbage and take it for disposal.
Unspoken at the meeting was whether or how the city’s pullout might affect the remaining parties to the contract.
Lockley said Pike County supervisors had already extended the contract, and he indicated Summit Mayor Percy Robinson had told him Summit would extended the contract as well. He expected the same from Magnolia and Osyka.
At the end of the discussion, selectmen voted unanimously, 5-0, to extend the contract. Selectman Donovan Hill was absent.