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City Council explores possible changes to sanitation service

NEW ORLEANS - City Council members raised concerns about the French Quarter's cleanliness and discussed possible citywide changes to sanitation service during a budget hearing Wednesday.

Across the Quarter Wednesday, trash sat piled up in some spots - something that resident Steve Mallernee has noticed happening more often.

"There's a little more trash around," Mallernee said. "Not as much reinforcement of loose trash."

And the overall cleanliness of the city's most famous neighborhood has fallen off, according to some City Council members.

"The French Quarter - we've alluded to that, some of my colleagues - that it's just not up to par," said Council Vice President Stacey Head.

It became a key point of discussion as the Council tackled next year's sanitation budget. The city is negotiating a one-year contract extension with Progressive Waste Solutions, which took over the French Quarter and CBD after buying SDT in 2011.

"I think that the one-year extension is judicious, considering that the quality of service they're providing us is not what it needs to be," Head said. "The French Quarter, frankly, smells, and it shouldn't for the amount of money we're paying them."

"We need better services for less money there, so that's your challenge," said Council President Jackie Clarkson.

But Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin said improvements are coming.

"Based on the progress of our negotiations, we're going to get better services," he said. "We have clear expectations."

But some council members said citywide, too much money is going to sanitation, which accounts for more $39 million of next year's proposed budget.

On Wednesday, the council discussed the possibility of cutting trash pickups from two times per week to one, citing other cities like Baltimore and Dallas that have saved millions of dollars a year after making that move.

"Change is difficult for people, but we have to help them to get there, because oftentimes - and I've heard this in other places with regard to the one day pickup - it just changes the way people deal with waste," said Councilwoman Susan Guidry.

As for the concerns surrounding sanitation in the French Quarter, the city says it has secured $500,000 from the Convention Center to pay for more crews and equipment operators in that area.


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