By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer
Three weeks after heralding major concessions in the Metro Disposal trash-contract negotiation, the city has yet to begin drafting the new contract or amendment that will lock in the details of this new agreement.
Earlier this week, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a similar revision with the other major residential hauler, Richard’s Disposal.
When Landrieu was asked about the new written Metro agreement at a news conference Wednesday, he said it hadn’t been signed yet. Even so, the state public-records law says such a document should be disclosed, without regard to whether it’s signed. Landrieu said he’d release it when it’s signed.
When The Lens requested a copy of the unsigned Metro agreement to which the mayor referred, Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni said no such document existed.
Metro officials, including the attorney who negotiated the agreement, didn’t return calls for comment.
Before the new agreements were reached, Landrieu sought bids for the work, with any new contract beginning Jan. 1. It’s unclear whether that’s the effective date of the new agreements, or whether the savings start earlier.
Other undisclosed details of the new agreement have a bearing on the ultimate cost. While the companies have agreed to a cost per household served, the number of households has never been resolved.
The bids for new service were very specific on the number of service points, coming in below those now claimed to be served by both Richards and Metro:
- * Richards is now being paid for 66,525 homes; the bid for that area called for service to 61,776 sites.
- * Metro is being paid for 55,943; the bid called for 51,134.
The new Richards contract is expected to lower sanitation rates from $22 to $17.99 and add recycling.
Landrieu announced Nov. 15 that Metro Disposal cut its rate from $18.50 to $15.99 and added recycling.
Richards serves Algiers, Uptown, Mid-City and the Garden District among other neighborhoods; Metro serves New Orleans East, Lower 9th Ward, Gentilly, Lakeview, Treme, and City Park.
While the city has renegotiated its costs, citizens should not expect to see the rate lowered. That’s because the administration contends that residents have long paid below cost in their monthly fees, with the city paying the difference out of the general fund.