The cost of residential garbage collection is again presenting a major quandary for Alcorn County.

It is time to negotiate a new contract for household garbage pickup, and only one business submitted a proposal – Waste Management. The incumbent provider of the service, Waste Connections, is absent from the negotiation, and its contract expires at the end of June.

In a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors Monday afternoon to discuss the issue, Board Attorney Bill Davis said the county is constitutionally constrained by the 6 mill limitation on the county’s expenditure for garbage service. The numbers proposed “are significantly above that 6 mill figure,” he said.

The county does not charge an additional fee per household for garbage service, leaving only the property tax revenue to cover the cost.

“This is the first time I’ve had this come up in Mississippi,” said Kerry Howell, a representative of Waste Management.

The company’s proposal is $9.53 monthly per household without carts provided or $10.53 monthly per household with carts provided and maintained for about 8,450 garbage customers. The proposal is for household refuse only, excluding yard waste, rubbish and bulky waste, and the rates are subject to annual consumer price index adjustments.

Chancery Clerk Greg Younger said it appears a 14 percent reduction in the bid would get close to the break-even point. The company plans to take another look at the numbers and continue the negotiation next week.

In addition to the finances, the timeline is a challenge, particularly if the county is forced to start over and advertise again for proposals. It could leave a new service provider with just a few weeks to get up and running.

Waste Management prefers the option of providing households with carts, which can be picked up with automated trucks.

“It’s more efficient,” said Howell. “It’s also a lot cleaner. People can put their garbage out the night before, and they don’t have animals getting into it and all that kind of stuff.”

The proposal is for a six-year contract beginning July 1 with up to four more additional one-year options. The contract is for collection and hauling only. The county has a separate contract for disposal.

Six years ago, facing a major deficit in garbage collection and the loss of inmate labor, along with failing garbage trucks, the county got out of the garbage collection business and entered a contract with Waste Connections at a cost of $5.98 monthly per household.

Davis described the state’s 6 mill cap on garbage collection as “artificially low.”

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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