By Paige Nash
Following the sale of the Webster Parish landfill to Republic Services, residents of Webster Parish are concerned about the half-cent sales tax that was adopted in May of 1984. Many are under the impression that this special tax was put in place strictly for the maintenance and upkeep of the landfill, and they want to know why they are now being charged to dump their garbage when they pay the taxes for the landfill.
The ordinance states that it can be used for the purpose of solid waste disposal and collection, including litter boxes, constructing, maintaining and improving public roads, streets, highways and bridges. It can also be used for the construction and renovations of the jail and penal farm facilities.
The special tax will be staying in place.
“The tax was passed way before we even had a landfill,” said Patrick Jackson, Webster Parish Attorney. “Even though we don’t have a landfill, we still have to spend money picking up garbage along the side of the road. None of that tax is being misused or misspent.”
A few residents and jurors stated concerns about “dumping” and littering becoming more of an issue in the parish now that residents are being charged to dispose of their trash.
Murray Sparks, whose family owns Best Environmental Waste Services, said he has received many of those calls of complaints and questions. He started receiving inquiries about the prices of his services due to the charges that are now required at the landfill and receiving station.
“It’s going to get bad,” Sparks said. “Out of the people that are calling me, one lady went out there said that she is being charged 40 dollars to dump her trash. Rural people in this parish cannot pay that.”
He feels the residents of the parish were blindsided by the charges.
“We took bids and tried to negotiate with Republic on a new operator’s contract,” said Webster Parish Police Jury President Jim Bonsall. “Whether they operated it for us, or we sold it to them, the number was going to go up. It was not sustainable. It was a 25-year-old contract, and it was good for the people of Webster Parish for a long time. For the business of the parish, I believe this was the right thing to do.”
Sam Plants, owner and operator of Knights Services La, LLC, took over the Sarepta Transfer/Receiving Station at Wenks Landing. They were not able to open on March 31, like they originally planned due to a hold up with their insurance, but they were able to get that taken care of and opened for business on the following day, April 1.
“We staffed up and got everyone unloaded with no problem,” Plants said. “The thing that slowed us down was communication. Everyone had 10 questions.”
They are open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and are currently charging $1 per 13-gallon trash bag. Anything above that weight will be $2 per bag. But it hasn’t been that simple.
“There have been people who show up with a truck load of construction debris,” Plants said. “By the time I unload all of that, load it into a container and pay $40 per ton to ship it to the landfill, the price for me to do that does not economically make sense.”
He says they are holding off on making any major investments into the property until they know for sure it is going to work out. If they continue going in the right direction, they will be looking into repairing the scales and purchasing new compactors.
Republic Services, who now owns the landfill, are open Monday through Friday. They are charging $2 per bag, weighing anywhere from 13-50 gallons and $40 per ton. Both Knight Services and Republic Services are open to adding days and opening on the weekend if the customer base is there and they feel it is needed. As of right now they do not feel it is necessary.
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