County Commission votes to stick with Waste Pro, despite customer service complaints

Published: Feb. 11, 2020 at 5:46 PM EST
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

February 11, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- At Tuesday's meeting, Leon County Commissioners voted to renew the current solid waste collection agreement with Waste Pro.

The agreement includes the same residential subscription rates, but an adjustment in the commercial waste rates.

Much of the discussion centered around a high number of customer service issues; the contract includes a provision for the County to cancel the contract if customer complaints continue.

As part of the agreement, Commissioners will receive quarterly updates on customer service performance.

Commissioner Bryan Desloge says says the new agreement has tightened up the service standards.

"Garbage is a messy business," said Desloge.

Desloge says despite the 37% increase, it will still be the lowest possible rate for commercial businesses.

"It's hard to keep everybody happy. You have elderly people who can't get the cart down there, you've got people who bring things out on an odd schedule," said Desloge. "It's tough, and to make everybody happy is almost an impossibility."

Waste Pro has seen a variety of customer complaints in recent years, including issues with its side-loading vehicles leaking hydraulic fluid on roadways throughout neighborhoods.

One citizen who spoke to the Commission was particularly concerned about that environmental impact.

"Only when pushed by you guys are they committed to making those changes, those necessary changes to protect our environment and our community," she said.

The agenda item says representatives have committed to hiring a mechanic to handle the leaking issue.

During the meeting, FCC executives made their case to the Commission about why they should be chosen instead of Waste Pro; Waste Pro returned serve, highlighting their service to the community.

Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley made a motion to award the contract to FCC, citing the complaints with Waste Pro.

"I know that this is a difficult job, and the transition could be difficult, but with all do respect to our attorneys, I have no faith in this document," said Lindley.

Lindley was referring specifically to the clause that would allow the County to terminate the contract, saying there was not a set definition of a level of customer service and complaints that would be unacceptable.

Commissioner Dozier seconded the motion; she said rather than having changed her mind after the last meeting, she felt even more strongly.

"It's astonishing to me that the damages and complaints we've seen this year are higher than the last few years," said Dozier.

Dozier said she understands concerns about raising the cost for residents, especially those on fixed incomes. she says she's heard from some residents that they don't mind the increase, if they can just get better service.

"We have alternatives for low-income residents. We need to improve the level of service," said Commissioner Dozier.

Commissioner Proctor pointed out that the numbers from Waste Pro in the proposed contract are after a second negotiation; he questioned what FCC might bring to the table if allowed a second chance to negotiate.

"I'm asking that we freeze this, I'm asking that we give a second sit down to FCC to see what their numbers could be," said Proctor.

Commissioner Lindley's motion ultimately failed, with the County voting to continue with Waste Pro.

Commissioner Rick Minor questioned what circumstances would allow the County to cancel the contract, asking the County Administrator, Vince Long, to create guidelines.

Long explained that by not setting specific performance guidelines for termination, the County will ultimately have more power to cancel the contract if needed.

The new contract will run for three years.

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