[StBernard] St. Bernard extends garbage contract

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sat Feb 10 12:36:30 EST 2007

By Karen Turni Bazile

St. Bernard Parish officials extended the parish's garbage collection
contract through 2016 with a fixed rate and the promise of automated pickup
in the spring.

Administrators had approved a six-month initial contract in July and then a
one-year extension with SDT Waste & Debris Services of Chalmette. But the
Parish Council this week ratified a multiyear extension.

Because council members said they were pleased with the contract and its
prices for services, the council approved the agreement with SDT for an
additional nine years with several caveats, including a review after three
years that would require changes to the contract if there were technological
improvements in the industry that would mean a savings for both sides.

Dave Peralta, the parish's chief administrative officer, said even though
the per-household charge is more expensive than what Waste Management had
charged before Hurricane Katrina, officials are happy with the new contract
because it locks in a per-household price for nearly 10 years.

Besides, officials acknowledged that it costs more to pick up curbside waste
since Katrina because the neighborhoods are less densely populated. That
drives up costs because the company has to cover the same area, but it has
fewer households to charge the parish for collections.

"It's an excellent contract for the parish," Peralta said. "It's good
because it allows for long-range planning and the ability to develop new

SDT is owned by Sidney Torres IV, a developer and hotelier who is the son of
influential Chalmette lawyer Sidney Torres III and grandson of Clerk of
Court Lena Torres. His company bid a monthly fee of $20 per household for
twice-a-week pickup. The only other bidder, Coastal Waste Management, which
had been picking up garbage under an emergency contract after Katrina, bid
$28 per household.

Before the storm, Waste Management was charging the parish about $13 a
household per month, but it had 27,000 households on its routes, making its
contract more profitable, Peralta said. Waste Management canceled its
contract after the storm and has not bid on any new work.

Peralta said he wasn't sure how much the new contract ultimately will cost
because the charges increase as residents return. The contract also involves
the parish paying for several 30-yard containers, but that number will
fluctuate as the population does. The parish has budgeted about $4.5 million
for garbage collection in 2007.

SDT first began collecting garbage from 3,000 St. Bernard Parish households
in August, but that number has grown to about 9,500 homes, Torres said.
Given the increase in returning residents, Torres believes the contract may
be worth $5 million by the end of the year, at which time he estimates he
will be collecting garbage from 15,000 to 20,000 homes, nearly 55 percent to
74 percent of pre-Katrina levels.

Besides, the St. Bernard contract, SDT also recently won a $9 million annual
contract to collect trash and clean streets in the French Quarter and
Central Business District.
Part of the terms in extending the St. Bernard contract required Torres to
get automated equipment and to distribute 95-gallon garbage cans to
residents as Waste Management had done before Katrina.

Starting Feb. 27, the Monday after Mardi Gras, Torres said residents will be
able to register for a black can with the SDT logo that will be used for the
automated pickup. The cans will be delivered within two months. Residents
will be able to register on the company Web site at www.sdtwds.com or in
person at the SDT office at 101 Virtue St. in Chalmette, between the hours
of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

I see the words of the administration but I don't see any comments from
council members...

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