The city’s recent switch in residential trash pick-up providers has not been a smooth one, but the new company is working hard to address the issues, Waste Pro Regional Vice President Roland Joyner told Board of Mayor and Aldermen members on Tuesday.
Leaders decided earlier in the year not to renew its contract with Republic Services that officially ended on June 30. That company had for years been providing a twice-a-week, back-door service.
BOMA members voted in May to enter into a five-year contract with Waste Pro, a Florida-based company, and move to a once-a-week, back-door service.
The company’s official start date was July 1.
Joyner admitted the company underestimated the amount of trucks and manpower it would need to service the city’s more than 18,000 homes.
“I should have put more trucks out the first week than we did,” said Joyner adding the company picked up an average of 50 pounds of trash per home last week. The national average, he noted, is 38 pounds per home.
Joyner said the company has brought in more workers from out of town, and has added more trucks.
“It’s a learning curve for the city…. And as issues are coming to us we’re trying to react to them as quickly as we can,” he added.
With 10 trucks, the company is averaging around 366 homes per truck per day, according to Joyner. An additional truck will allow the company to service around 300 homes per day.
“If we need to add more, we will,” he said. “The big issue right now is new drivers learning new routes.”
City leaders have said the move to a once-a-week trash pick-up will save between $1.5 and $2 million. It’s unclear however, what the true cost savings will be since it was revealed Tuesday that while Republic Services had been picking up yard waste such as grass clippings, that service is not currently included in Waste Pro’s contract.
“We have heard that Republic was picking up yard waste that they were not supposed to be picking up,” said Ward 2 Alderman Scott Sprouse who referenced an email to aldermen from Mayor Jamie Clary. Clary posted the same information on his Facebook page.
“But when I look through this [Republic] contract, it says that they are supposed to be picking up yard waste,” said Sprouse. The Ward 2 alderman also referenced an email sent in 2017 from a public works department employee to Republic reiterating that they were supposed to pick up yard waste.
Acting Public Works Director Marshall Boyd said the city will pick up grass clippings and leaves two days a week, but several aldermen questioned whether that would be enough for residents.
“I don’t think our staff is going to be able to cover that in two days,” said Alderman Pat Campbell.
Two aldermen pointed out that the Waste Pro contract has yet to be signed.
“This board passed May 14 for y’all to start service,” said Alderman Steve Brown. “It’s July 9 and y’all don’t have a signed contract. That’s a liability issue to me.”
Joyner said the company is waiting for an exact number of homes it’s expected to service from the city.
“I’m waiting for a correct house count,” he said.
Waste Pro employee Lori Cate, who joined Joyner at the BOMA meeting, said it’s not unusual for a contract to not be signed for several months after they are awarded a job.
“It’s not unfamiliar to us,” she said. “But we will move quickly forward to get that taken care of.”
When asked if the city could add the pick-up of yard waste to Waste Pro’s contract, Joyner noted the addition would include the pick up of leaves in the fall.
“And that scares me,” he said.
Anyone experiencing problems with residential trash pick-up is urged to call the city’s public works department at 615-822-1016. City residents can also take their small limbs and grass to the city’s mulch recycling center at 501 Forrest Retreat Road. The center will be open Saturdays July 13 and July 27 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be open weekdays 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Monday, July 15.