Mayor to dock garbage pickup firm

Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan

By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Rodney Grogan said he is tired of hearing the same excuses from Progressive Waste Solutions and will be sending a remittance which docks the company a third of its typical $45,000 monthly payment because of widespread failures to pick up garbage in the city.
“There are only four out of eight pickups made on my street,” Grogan said. “In other areas of town the pickups are about six out of eight times.”
Grogan said the contract calls for penalties of up to $200 in each instance whenever pickups are missed or are more than 24 hours late. He said reducing the monthly remittance by a third was based on the continued high rate of late and missed pickups.
“We have had enough. We are not getting pickups and we keep getting the same excuses,” Grogan said. “Last month the number of calls (about missed pickups) was just ridiculous.”
The reduced remittance was passed on to local residents in a $5 decrease in their garbage collection fee. Residents should not expect that reduction is something permanent, Grogan said.
The mayor said residents need to call Progressive on missed garbage pickups and document those phone calls to bring pressure on the company to make timely pickups every week.
The numbers to call are 985-851-0278 or 800-693-4866.
Progressive did not return a call from The Daily Review seeking comment.
The council put off a vote on the new personnel manual for city employees until its next meeting because the members wanted more time to examine the comprehensive document.
Grogan said the manual was based on the policy manual from the St. Mary Parish government with adjustments to make it applicable to the City of Patterson. He said the parish handbook has passed the test of constitutional muster.
City attorney Russel Cremaldi said Louisiana employees are usually considered “at will” employees who can be terminated without cause or reason unless it is stipulated otherwise. He suggested the council attach a document for employees to sign so employees cannot argue the document is a contract that gives them rights.
“You don’t want the policy to change the “at will” status of employees,” Cremaldi suggested. “You want to be able to be in control of the process of discipline and termination.”
Henry “Bo” LaGrange, chief administrative officer for the parish, said the parish does not have that type of document for its employees to sign. The parish documents the actions taken before termination in an effort to reduce unemployment claims.
“We do not feel anything in our policy would lend itself to employees being considered civil servants or not “at will” employees,” LaGrange said.
The council approved an ordinance to abandon the property that was once Second Street between Catherine and Church streets. The ordinance was done to facilitate the building of a new Patterson Junior High School which voters approved overwhelmingly in an Oct. 19 bond election. The junior high school houses grades 5 to 8.
Grogan said the new school building will be built between Twin and First streets, over a portion of what was once used as Second Street.
The property is no longer used as a street and the city does not need it to access its other property in the area.
The agenda included an introduction of an ordinance to provide benefits for the mayor but the item was skipped without an explanation. The matter was brought to the council last month, but after much discussion, Grogan pulled the item from consideration before a vote was taken.
A similar item regarding the chief of police was tabled during the same meeting and was not on Tuesday’s agenda.
In other matters before the council:
—A zoning variance was adopted allowing the construction of an unattached building at 507 Leo Drive.
—Proclamations were approved recognizing the 200-year history of Patterson United Methodist Church and the 100-year history of the Knights of Columbus 1710 in Patterson.
—Can shakes were approved Saturday for Patterson High School’s graduation and another on Nov. 16 for the girls’ basketball team.
—Grogan announced that the Patterson Christmas lighting ceremony would begin at 5 p.m. Nov. 24.
 with music supplied by the St. Joseph Catholic Church choir. Grogan said Santa is expected to make a 5:45 p.m. arrival.
—The “I Bleed for Blue” blood drive on Saturday was announced. There were 50 people that donated last year. The donations allow Patterson to accumulate credits in the blood bank that can be redeemed if an officer needs it.
—The council was informed that the city’s capital outlay requests to the state have moved up in priority levels. This includes a $750,000 three-stage project for replacing the water and gas meters with electronically read meters. City manager Dave Lowery said the meters should be replaced every 20 years but some in Patterson are nearly 50 years old. Another capital outlay project includes funding to replace water lines on First Street.
 

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