Commercial trash fees going up in Port Arthur after Oct. 1

Published 3:39 pm Saturday, August 19, 2017

Business owners will soon see their bills increase after Oct. 1 for commercial trash pickup.

The Port Arthur City Council approved increasing the commercial container service rates at their regular meeting on Tuesday night after a public hearing was held on the subject.

The ordinance will increase rates to 97 percent of the lowest charge in the region for commercial container rates over a three-year period with a 33 percent increase each year. The third year will have a 34 percent increase.

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An interoffice memorandum from Jimmie Johnson, assistant city manager of operations, stated the ordinance would increase and improve commercial trash service to the city.

City Manager Brian McDougal said even after the increase Port Arthur’s rates would still be the most reasonable in comparison.

“A recent survey has revealed that current commercial container service rates are substantially lower than that of area and similar size cities (averaging 49 percent less,” it read.

The solid waste division has been functioning at a deficit for several years.

Equipment replacement in the division is necessary in order to service the community in a more adequate and timely manner.

“The increase in revenue, made possible by this ordinance amendment, will greatly assist towards these endeavors,” it read.

The council approved financing an engineering study for $16,000 with the firm of Arceneaux, Wilson & Cole with funding from the Texas General Land Office to develop property on Pleasure Island into a beach front park.

Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr., District 5 councilman, said the first step is the engineering work and they will later advance on the funding after that is completed. He added there would be opportunities for matching monies through the GLO, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and 4B economic development funding.

Harold Doucet Sr., District 4 councilman, said it wouldn’t be approved if the cost is 40 percent or more for the city. Lewis said there wouldn’t be a drawdown anytime soon and the initial funding can come from the Pleasure Island expense account budget.

One resolution removed from the agenda was to approve the Fiscal Year 2018 Street Program. The council will schedule a workshop on the topic instead to receive more information.

Armando Gutierrez, director of public works, wrote in an interoffice memorandum his department developed a 20-year streets program for the improvements of city streets. The program was first presented to the city council on Jan. 31. Several presentations have been made at different public meetings in the city.

The council had an engineering project schedule for the streets that need repairs, which ones are in most dire need, which district they lie in, and how long it will take and how much it will cost.

Doucet said he believed his district, District 4, has the majority of poor streets in the city. He added that if the city still has money in the FY 2017 budget more streets can be fixed.

McDougal said, however, the city was relying on Cheniere Energy in Cameron to pay the city $6 million a year for supplying water to their LNG plant. The money that was expected didn’t come in and the city will receive only $2 million.

If the city wants to sustain $5 million a year for streets in their budget they will have to sustain them with bonds.

Lastly, a change order was approved for work done at the Transit Administration Building parking pad and drainage system improvement project, but not before some questions were asked.

The change order was for a contract between the city and Simco Enterprises LTD to increase the contract by $29,640 for a new total of $180,540. The final payment and release of retainage was for $18,054.

Doucet told Ronald McElhose, transit manager, the $18,054 should have never been spent without council’s approval.

McDougal said that contract for approval should have never gotten across his desk. He apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again.

Raymond Scott, District 1 councilman, told McDougal that was part of his job to make sure that didn’t happen and it wasn’t acceptable.