Port Arthur outlines upgraded trash plan following community, council complaints

Published 12:40 am Friday, July 22, 2022

The City of Port Arthur is entering into a contract with a Florida-based company to rent two garbage trucks, and has budgeted for two new trucks, as well as excess parts for the upcoming fiscal year.

“This is a contingency measure in order that if we get into an emergency sometime again, if the need arises, so that…the services will not be disrupted by any means like we had it disrupted for the chain of supply sometime in January,” said City Manager Ron Burton. “This is a measure in, when any occasion arises, that we could utilize that.”

In January, city leaders voted to bring in emergency trash services when a breakout of COVID-19 combined with the difficulty of finding necessary parts for broken trucks resulted in a delay in garbage pickup.

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The issue continued for several months.

“Every meeting we keep beating a dead horse,” Councilman Cal Jones said in January. “COVID, broken trucks, can’t find trucks — it’s old. All this stuff is old. In my opinion 2022 won’t go like 2021. Everybody can make excuses… But next week we’ll be back to the same problems. My garbage has been out since last Tuesday.”

Mayor Thurman Bartie at that time gave city staff a six-month timeline to correct the problem.

Burton said that week that all city-owned trucks are currently in working order.

“We do have the heavy duty mechanics in place,” he said. “We have made certain adjustments to our mechanics and the shop where people work on weekends. We have covered the…schedule completely, and on Friday all of the vehicles go in for maintenance and routine maintenance…so that on Monday we are ready and up and moving again.”

The resolution approved this week allows for city staff to bring in two as-needed trucks for up to one year as long as the cost does not exceed $192,000.

Clifton Williams, transportation director, said the estimate was made for one year but only required for six months, which could in turn save the city several thousands of dollars.

Another cost saving measure made, Burton said, relates to the landfill.

“One of the positions that I’m putting in to enhance and strengthen what we’re doing in the garage is to make sure we have another heavy duty mechanic to cut down on costs — not only for the garbage trucks but for the amounts that we continue to spend in the landfill,” he said.

“I did an analysis and we’re spending almost half a million dollars in the landfill a year. We can reduce that by employing a heavy-duty mechanic, which would be less than $100,000.”

In addition, the upcoming budget includes the addition of new technology and software pertaining to the garbage trucks that will remind and alert officials regarding maintenance.