The Mayor and Board of Aldermen agree that the current state of the city’s garbage collection efforts is terrible – but that’s about the only thing they agree on concerning the issue.
The subject of garbage collection was a hot topic during Monday’s city council meeting with Ward 2 Alderman Jack Varner blaming Mayor Diane Delaware for the current problems and Delaware blaming years of incompetent management by city leaders. Board members also had different opinions on how to fix the problems.
Yazoo City resident Natalie Gibbs first brought up the topic during the public comment section of the meeting.
“Our garbage pickup used to be pretty terrific,” Gibbs said. “It’s horrible now.”
Gibbs said she has seen contractor’s waste being picked up on her street – which is not a service the city is supposed to provide – daily while residential trash is left unattended.
“My garbage has not been picked up on four Saturdays, and my trash was not picked up all this week until this morning,” Gibbs said. “This morning we had one truck, the front loader, and two more trucks following. It was a parade.”
Gibbs said she also doesn’t understand why residents aren’t required to follow the rules.
“Why do we let people put trash in the street instead of on the curb, and why don’t we make people put leaves in bags,” Gibbs asked. “This causes flooding on the little older people on the end of my street, and I’m tired of it. If our people are incompetent, fire them and hire somebody else.”
Delaware said she agreed with everything Gibbs said.
“Mrs. Gibbs, I think you’re kind of like me, you’re asking questions that you already know the answers to,” Delaware said. “You know what we need to do to fix these problems, and we’re working on those things. You have articulated our problems better than it has often been articulated.We’re faced with a very serious problem, and I want you to know this board is working on it.”
Ward 2 Alderman Dr. Jack Varner said the city isn’t providing the resources to properly collect garbage.
“We do not have the proper personnel, and we don’t pay them right,” Varner said.
Delaware said that the board has voted to declare some equipment as surplus that could be used.
“If we eliminate this equipment we have to get new equipment,” Delaware said. “If we’re going to get new equipment we need to understand how we are going to use it.”
Varner said that most of that equipment is not usable.
“That’s not true,” Delaware said.
“We sit here on our rumps and don’t get it done,” Varner said. “We took bids on garbage trucks two months ago, and we never ordered it. Garbage trucks are on state contract. All you have to do is go pick one up.”
Varner said the board is to blame for the current state of affairs.
“You can blame the services not being provided directly on this board,” Varner said. “We’re not providing the personnel to get it done with.”
“It has nothing to do with personnel,” Delaware said. “It’s equipment.”
Delaware said the city’s worker’s compensation costs are unusually high. She said that most cities now have trucks that pick up garbage cans rather than having people jumping on and off the truck.
Delaware said the board needs to have a long term plan to improve garbage collection services.
“We went into the garbage business two mayors back, and as long as we had those two mayors we never had as much trouble with garbage,” Varner said.
“That’s not true,” Delaware responded.
“This board, under your direction, has sat here and we do not have proper personnel and equipment.”
“I haven’t done anything with the personnel,” Delaware said. “You terminated the personnel because they needed to be terminated.”
“That’s the trouble, you haven’t done anything,” Varner said.
“That’s not true,” Delaware said. “I brought it to your attention that they weren’t doing their jobs. I can also tell you that for years and years they weren’t working full time, and you were paying them full time. I’m trying not to bring that up, but the bottom line is that we have a garbage and street department that is in trouble, and it has been in trouble for years, and years and years. You want to pay them more money, but they’ve already been paid more money than they were supposed to make for years because they weren’t working the full hours they were supposed to work.”
Delaware said she is “trying desperately” to fix the garbage problem.
“So don’t tell me the garbage is my fault,” she said. “I didn’t hire those people. I didn’t move those people there. It has been broken for a long time.”
“For a year and a half,” Varner said. “I have never had complaints about garbage in this city like I have lately.”
“You may not have, but what you have had is high insurance with injuries, and all kinds of people not showing up for work and still getting paid,” Delaware said. “I’m trying to correct these problems, but I will not sit here and do what we have done in the past. What we have done in the past is atrocious and horrible. It’s an injustice to the taxpayers.”
Delaware said some neighborhoods have been neglected for years.
“Maybe Ward 2 didn’t have problems, but a lot of neighborhoods did,” Delaware said.
The board later authorized City Engineer Wayne Morrison to study the issue and make recommendations on how to improve garbage collection.