Woolworth landfill

SHREVEPORT, La. -- The City of Shreveport has filed suit against six commercial waste-haulers, seeking to require them to use the city’s landfill as required by local ordinance and to be reimbursed for lost revenue.

Private sanitation companies routinely pick up trash and garbage they collect at businesses throughout Shreveport and take it to Mundy Landfill in neighboring DeSoto Parish, a parish-operated facility that markets its services to other parishes and charges less to accept trash than Shreveport’s city owned Woolworth Road landfill.

City ordinance requires that trash picked up in Shreveport be taken to the local landfill.

The practice of commercial haulers using another landfill has resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue for the city, a review of public records by KTBS News has found.

Taxpayers in Shreveport are making up for the lost revenue through part of a sanitation fee added to their monthly water bills. That $7-per-month fee started in 2019 after years of residential garbage and trash pickup being part of basic city services.

In its lawsuit, filed Thursday in Caddo District Court, the city said revenues at Shreveport’s landfill began declining in 2015 as commercial haulers who collect trash from businesses began using the DeSoto landfill to save money.

“The defendants’ illegal action of diverting the waste and revenue stream from Woolworth landfill to other landfills are directly responsible for a portion of the cost to the citizens of Shreveport,” the suit alleges.

The suit does not seek specific damages but the issue involves millions of dollars in landfill-use fees going back six years. A hearing on whether a judge will issue an injunction ordering the haulers to use Shreveport’s landfill is set for Oct. 25 before Caddo District Judge Mike Pitman.

Named as defendants in the suit are Live Oak Environmental, Waste Connections Bayou, Bayou Belle Waste, Louisiana Environmental Services, Get Rid of It America and Waste Options.

Figures provided by City Hall in response to a public records request by KTBS News shows revenue at Woolworth Road from commercial haulers has declined more than 40 percent over the past five years. The city’s share of revenue from commercial haulers was barely $1 million last year, compared to $1.7 million five years ago.

Shreveport’s director of Public Works in November sent out letters to commercial haulers, detailing the city ordinance and notifying the companies they must follow it or face “enforcement action and fines” of $500 per vehicle each day.

The city generates about $5 million a year from the sanitation fee, which funds solid-waste collections and has provided pay raises for sanitation workers. Money from the monthly fee exceeds the decline in revenue at the landfill.

City crews pick up residential garbage and trash in Shreveport and take it to the city landfill.  Commercial waste, which is placed in dumpsters, is collected by private companies and is supposed to go there, too.

The Woolworth Road landfill is operated by a private company, Republic Services, which provides equipment and personnel to handle waste disposal and gets the majority of revenue from landfill-use charges. The city, which sets rates, staffs the landfill gate and collects money from haulers, receives about a fourth of landfill revenue.

The landfill business is a major source of revenue for DeSoto Parish. Revenues at its Mundy Landfill have increased eight-fold over the past six years – from $936,000 in 2015 to $7.2 million last year, according to the DeSoto Police Jury.  Part of that revenue helps pay for parish road projects.

Rates vary but the DeSoto landfill charges are almost all lower than Shreveport’s. Municipal solid waste charges, for example, are nearly $10 a ton cheaper at DeSoto, a significant savings for businesses that haul tens of thousands of tons of garbage a year.

Annual Woolworth Road Landfill Revenues From Private Haulers

                                                            2016                            2020

Tons                                                    168,000                       96,000

Total Revenue                                      $6,471,212                  $3,691,131

Paid to landfill operator                         $4,736,591                  $2,650,903

City of Shreveport revenue                    $1,734,621                  $1,040,228

Source: Shreveport Department of Public Works

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