Once again, the Metro Council will take up the issue of a proposed tire shredder at its meeting this afternoon. Though no action will be taken, the rhetoric could get heated: Council member Chauna Banks has asked for a joint report on the program from the parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control district, which received federal grant funding to purchase the shredder, and Baum Environmental Services, the private company that has a contract with the city-parish to operate the shredder.
Banks—who opposes locating the shredder in her district on industrially zoned MARC property—is demanding information about the business plan, operations and sustainability of the proposed program.
“My end game is to make sure everything is taken into consideration,” she says.
Many council members thought they had taken everything into consideration back in September, when they voted to approve an agreement with Baum to operate the shredder for free in exchange for the processed material.
But Banks and three other African American council members missed the September meeting at which the Baum agreement was approved because they were at a legislative conference in Washington, D.C. Now, Banks says she wants to revisit the deal because it is an example of environmental injustice.
It’s not clear how far Banks’ efforts will ultimately go. The deal between the city-parish and Baum has been signed by the mayor. Though it could be revoked, Banks is unlikely to convince a majority of the council to take that action.
She could delay the process, however, potentially derailing the program. The MARC received a $605,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to purchase the shredder, which, it is hoped, will cut down on the waste tires that serve as breeding ponds for disease-carrying mosquitoes.
But the grant requires that the funds be spent by June 30. MARC Executive Director Randy Vaeath says the clock is ticking and time is getting short.
“We’re happy to answer any questions,” he says. “But we’re running out of time. These questions should have been asked months ago.”
The council meets at 4 p.m. in the Metro Council chambers, 3rd floor, City Hall, 222 St. Louis St.