EUNICE — The City of Eunice will begin its own solid waste pickup Monday, as residents were requested by social media to help with the transition. The city plans to switch out Waste Management polycarts for new city polycarts this week.
“Council had a special meeting at lunch Friday and approved a resolution to cancel the contract with Waste Management,” said City Manager Jordan Yutzy. “We don’t know if it’s going to go to a lawsuit or not. They’ve agreed to negotiate with us for the last three years of the contract, but we will start our sanitation pickup on June 8.”
Dan Darnell, manager of public sector relations for Waste Management, attended the council meeting, telling the council, “I believe the real issue is you have a contract with Waste Management to provide your solid waste pickup for another three years. … When we have a contract to do something, we commit resources to make sure we fulfill it, and we’re talking about three years left on the contract. So, we have committed (resources).”
Darnell told the council he would avoid discussing legal implications, leaving that to the attorneys, but warned councilors they should reconsider starting their own sanitation department before the Waste Management contract terminates.
In a written statement to the News-Sun on Tuesday, Jennifer N. Wargo, communications director for the Waste Management four corners area, said, “Waste Management of New Mexico is disappointed in the City of Eunice’s decision to terminate our contract.
“Our Hobbs-based team has enjoyed serving Eunice residents and businesses safely and reliably, every week, and will miss delivering this essential service to the community. Per the City’s decision, our final day servicing Eunice will be June 3, 2020,” Wargo concluded.
Yutzy had first brought the concept to the city council last July, shortly after he took the city manager position, telling the elected officials he believed the annual increases in charges by Waste Management were unreasonable and the city could handle the service more economically.
In the year since, the city has purchased its own dumpsters and trash pickup equipment and hired workers to perform the services.
“They (Waste Management) will pick up this week and we’re going to start picking up next week. We’re going to pick up Mondays and Thursdays,” Yutzy told the News-Sun. “It’s going to save the city roughly $300,000 a year.”
In recent years, the city absorbed the increases without charging residents, Yutzy told the council in a previous meeting. Now, customers will continue to pay the same for trash pickup even though the pickup will be twice a week rather than the once weekly pickup residents became accustomed to under the Waste Management contract.
The resolution, passed by the council Friday, went beyond matter of rising costs, when giving its reasons for stopping the service.
“WHEREAS, the City of Eunice is cancelling the contract due to the high cost of the service to the City; and … Waste Management has failed to fulfill the repeated request by the City of Eunice to correct customer service issues …”
In recent years, several complaints came to the city from citizens regarding service issues including alleged failures to pick up as scheduled, trucks speeding in neighborhoods and other problems brought to the attention of Waste Management officials. The council had met with Waste Management officials on several occasions to discuss solutions.
In other business, the council approved a preliminary budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, based on anticipated gross receipts tax revenue of $322,000 per month.
“We were able to bring our GRT (revenue expectations) down to $322,000 (per month), which is $63,000 less than last year’s, while still doing a lot of capital purchases and projects,” Yutzy said. “I’m very happy with the budget. I’m glad we were able to get the (anticipated) GRT number down. It’s just moving the city in the direction of not being (dependent) on oil and gas money.”
The preliminary budget estimates total revenue at $8 million, compared to last year’s budgeted $7.8 million, which was revised to $6.9 million.
Major sources of revenue include GRT at $3.82 million; state, federal and county funds at $1.44 million; and multiple services to make up the remainder.
Budgeted expenditures include $4.28 million for personnel services and $1.33 million for capital outlays, with additional expenses to total $7.22 million.
Beginning with a general fund balance on July 1 of $1.73 million, the council anticipates the year will end on June 30, 2021 with a $2.59 million balance.