Carolyn Roy | News Editor
Words like “personal witch hunt” and “vendetta” peppered the conversation at the Parish Council meeting Monday when a private garbage hauler questioned why he was no longer allowed to dump at the Goldonna trash compactor station. Ben Dupree said he has collected garbage and hauled it to the dumpster and compactor station in Goldonna since October 2017.
He called his business a ministry and service in which he helped the elderly, single mothers and others, including a store, town hall, three churches, post office and lodge with garbage disposal. He was notified by a Parish Government employee after delivering a second load of garbage in May that he would, in the future, be required to haul the garbage to the transfer station at the Parish landfill on Hwy 1 in Natchitoches. The site is an additional 36 mile commute.
Dupree said Goldonna Mayor Jennifer Garner Smith contacted him about a mystery person who complained about him on Facebook. “I wonder how a faceless person can bring something to the mayor of my town,” Dupree said. “It’s not a town issue. Now I am personally banned.”
Parish Councilman Marty Cheatwood, who represents Goldonna, said several people called him about the problem. Cheatwood said he talked to Parish President John Richmond and learned there was an ordinance prohibiting private haulers from dumping at parish sites. Councilman John Salter said he had never heard of that ordinance, but after further research he learned the ordinance was passed in 1983. Salter also said private haulers were performing a service for parish residents who would be dumping their garbage using a private hauler or not.
Richmond told Dupree he was right to bring the problem to a public forum. Richmond said he was only enforcing an ordinance already in place by telling the parish employee to notify Dupree of the situation.
There were comments about whether the ordinance could be changed. Chairman Chris Paige called for the formation of a committee with Dupree to be notified of its first meeting.
There was a complaint from Patsy Ward-Hoover about an agenda item authorizing Richmond to award a contract to IBTS for services related to certified building official and flood plain management. Ward-Hoover wanted to know why the item specified IBTS when the council had not decided between IBTS, SG Inspections and Rapides Area Planning Commission (RAPC).
Ward-Hoover and Salter were critical of the fees IBTS charged and the lack of a full-time person on call. In a survey Richmond compiled using each company’s rate sheet, he estimated SG Inspections would charge $83,400; RAPC, $102,915; and IBTS, $71,820.
In addition, IBTS would include a 50 percent rebate when a threshold of $90,000 in charges is reached in a fiscal year. Ward-Hoover was critical of IBTS for rebating the Parish $14,000 while taking in $114,648 in fees in 2019; and rebating $15,473 while taking in $122,412 in 2020.
She said IBTS should have given the 50 percent rebate all along instead of waiting until there was competition. Salter said that if IBTS was generating that much in fees, the fees should be lowered. He wants to have a meeting with local contractors to get input on the fee structure. Although the IBTS contract expires June 30, representative Larry Walters agreed to continue its services month-by-month until the council can decide on a contract, provided his attorney comes up with an appropriate contract to protect IBTS.
Other discussion concerned Parish Government waiting for the Village of Goldonna to reimburse $19,000 the parish spent putting black rock on a village street. The village received a $19,000 grant, but the amount is listed as a receivable according to Richmond.
Parish Government will also be out $8,000 for gravel it spread on a levee near Miller Farm Road. Richmond said the Natchitoches Levee and Drainage Board (NLDB) voted not to reimburse Parish Government because they did not want to set a precedent.