What’s New With This Story:
-Large numbers of North Miami residents are sick of Waste Pro, the private company that has served as the city’s garbage collector for over six years.
-Some residents are willing to pay more in taxes in order for the trash pickup to go back to city management. Trash pickup services were privatized in 2011.
-North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin organized an event in early September for residents to vent their frustrations with the company. The regional VP for Waste Pro, Russell Mackie showed up to the event as well.
-Mackie said that Waste Pro has contracts with 21 South Florida municipalities and that the company has never lost a contract due to poor service. Instead he blames the problems on a poorly designed contract that North Miami has been slow to amend.
In North Miami, residents say that the garbage trucks are still rolling on the streets as late at 10:30 PM some nights.
Trash pickup can be spotty according to others and a lack of quality service has put a bad taste in the mouths of many.
The situation has become so bad that there are residents willing to do something truly drastic- pay more in taxes to fix the problem.
Judy Brown, the president of the Sunkist Grove Homeowners Association said that she would be willing to do just that.
She has lived in North Miami for 38 years and has seen the quality of trash pickup over the decades first hand.
“As soon as it became privatized, I noticed a difference and I started getting complaints,” Brown said. “Because, I’m the homeowner president, they would call me and complain about the trash not being collected.”
Brown said that the real problems started around 2013 when the bulk pickup stopped getting picked up.
She said things were better when the city was in charge of trash pickup.
“They took pride in what they were doing,” Brown said of the city workers who used to operate the service.
She said they would be done by 7 AM. With Waste Pro, she’s heard of trucks still picking up trash at 10:30 PM.
Michael McDearmaid has lived in NoMi for 50 years.
“When it was a city service, there was much more service,” McDearmaid said. “A lot of that had to do with the fact that they were employees of the city. A lot of them lived in the city.”
He said that the workers would look out for residents, even calling the police if they felt that certain things were amiss.
“Ultimately in a city of this size, service is everything,” McDearmaid said.
He said that if Waste Pro came up with the best offer, then they should be given another chance and that privatization efforts around the country have been a “mixed bag”.
According to city manager Larry Spring, it would cost roughly $20 to $25 million to restart a city trash program.
City Councilman Scott Galvin said that he doesn’t think its likely for the city to do trash service in house again but he might be willing to support such an effort.
So why are things not working out with Waste Pro?
It all comes down to the contract that was signed in 2011.
“What they need to understand is it’s not an unhappiness with Waste Pro,” Russell Mackie the Regional Vice President for Waste Pro Florida said. “Waste Pro sort of by default gets blamed for that. But there’s a deficiency in the contract.”
Under the original contract, Waste Pro was only supposed to collect bulk pick up once per month.
But after residents complained, the company agreed to do it once per week according to Mackie.
But Mackie said that the company wasn’t paid extra for the additional service.
In addition to that, the amount of trash picked up at the curb has increased 30% and the landfill has raised its prices 15%.
The contract officially ended in May but service was continued under an overtime provision until August.
Waste Pro continues to service North Miami basically without a contract in a bonus time arrangement.
An opening biding process for a new contract will be sent out to all interested companies.
Waste Pro intends to apply again.
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