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Monday, April 24, 2017

PRATT TRASHES RECYCLING CONTRACT WITH CITY OF SHREVEPORT

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Recycling alternatives under consideration

Another one of former Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover’s legacy “accomplishments” may now be as murky as the city’s water billing fiasco, which is largely attributable to the Glover administration’s purchase of Triton water meters and its contract with the water billing software company. Pratt Industries recently notified Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler that it will no longer be able to collect recycling at the current monthly rate; the Pratt’s 10- year contract ends Oct. 6.

The current contract is for $2.50 per household (approximately $65,000) per month. The city collects this sum on the city water bills and remits the funds to Pratt. Republic Services is contracted by Pratt to pick up the blue recycle bins citywide. Pratt operates a material recycling facility at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier; how the termination of the Shreveport contract will affect the continued operation of this facility is currently unknown.

Despite having convenient curbside service, Tyler reported to the Council that less than 12,000 households recycle. Pratt reports participation to be very high in South Highlands and in southeast Shreveport, and spotty west of I-49 and north of East Kings Highway. How to provide recycling to the one in less than five participating households is no easy task.

In a March 15 letter to Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler, Pratt outlined different recycling models. The first was a reduction in frequency of collection from weekly to twice monthly or every other week. Another option was a subscription service for residents who wanted to continue recycling, either with or without a subsidy of the $2.50 per month recycling charge. Other alternatives include having the city provide the pick-up service, going to a drop-off program with 50 to 70 sites throughout the city, and/or increasing the recycling fee.

In the past, recycling drop-off centers in Shreveport were basically a failure. After the City Council rejected a proposal to increase garbage fees, a fee increase may face substantial opposition. And with the water billing circus, having the city collecting a recycling subscription fee would be a joke indeed.

The city has issued a Request for Proposal for recycling services that provides two alternatives for proposals to pick up the 64-gallon rollout carts. The first alternative is to continue the weekly curbside collection. The second alternative is provide a plan that can be accomplished for an annual fee of $1.9 million, which is the amount currently paid to Pratt. It’s doubtful that weekly collection will continue at the rate set 10 years ago.

How Tyler approaches the recycling challenge will be interesting, to say the least. The city’s budget is basically held together with bailing wire and duct tape, and adding additional costs for a progressive but highly underutilized program is problematic. With the burgeoning legal expenses of the expansive water billing litigation along with the potential exposure to the city for damages and refunds in this litigation, the prospects for a politically acceptable solution for recycling are not favorable, to say the least.

John E. Settle, Jr. has been a resident of Shreveport since January 1977. His articles appear regularly in local publications. He can be reached at 742-5513 or e-mail to: john@jsettle.com

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