DENHAM SPRINGS - While the city is in the midst of recovery, it seems that the flood is starting to take a back seat in some instances to the normal, every day circumstances.
Extending flood recovery to a potential 4.5 year term received very little fanfare Monday night, as the council unanimously approved a master services agreement with Forte & Tablada through January 2021 for engineering services with regard to recovery. They also unanimously approved the move to declare 'wet city hall' as surplus - opening the door for demolition.
So what did get the attention? Garbage talk.
Republic Services, which holds a contract with the city, came in full force to discuss a rate increase based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 18-cents per household.
According to Mayor Gerard Landry, that totaled about $595 per month for Republic, or just over $7100 per year.
The discussion was mostly a formality, as the CPI-based increases are baked into the garbage collection company's contract with the city - which is considered standard operating procedure.
However, the council was quick to address issues with Republic's service.
"95% of the calls we here on the council receive are about garbage pickup," said councilman Jeff Wesley.
The council then entered discussion with representatives of Republic regarding collection issues. The mayor produced three thick folders, provided by his administrative assistant, that contained e-mails with Republic discussing three specific areas of issue - regular trash pickup; storm debris pickup; and cart issues.
Councilman Robert Poole brought up a specific issue for recycling bin wheels, which were falling off the right side for many customers. Poole suggested that the problem could be caused by a 'calibration issue,' to which the republic representatives said they would look into the issue.
Republic also discussed a re-education campaign in Denham Springs for recycling, stating that over 50% of the city's recyclables were contaminated.
The main issue, suggested councilwoman Lori Lamm-Williams, was communication between Republic and the city. The folders that were produced earlier in the meeting contained e-mail correspondence, that was not always guaranteed a response or delivery.
According to councilman Amber Dugas, the contract states that prompt response - within 24 hours - is required on a per-issue basis, and that a fine by the city can be imposed for non-compliance.
Representatives from Republic said that the 24-hour period begins when the message is received.
From there, the conversation moved into the search for more real-time communication with Republic, either through an online portal or direct contact with a representative, for issues regarding trash pickup. Republic said that they have online portals which actively monitor tickets and issues, that they'd just have to assign Denham Springs to a person in the office.
That process would take a few weeks.
The group agreed that Republic should return once a quarter.
"I think this has been very productive," Poole said, "and I think a lot of these issues can be worked out."
Republic will return in January.