3 companies want Brookhaven’s trash contract

Published 9:44 pm Friday, July 6, 2018

The fate of the city’s garbage is in Brookhaven aldermen’s hands.

The board will decide between three trash collection services Tuesday at a special called meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex.

Representatives from Arrow Disposal Services Inc., Metro Services and Waste Pro met with aldermen for a question and answer session June 21, nearly two months after request for proposals (RFPs) were accepted.

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The Alabama-based ADSI proposed $11.50 per household for once-a-week pickup and $15 for twice a week. Metro, out of Louisiana, proposed $10.16 for once and $12.83 for twice. The current contract-holder, Waste Pro, proposed $10.92 for once and $11.46 for twice.

Their current cost of garbage pickup for the city is $12.34 for twice a week pickup.

The companies’ per-household costs are not the final costs that customers will see, as other fees and expenses are added to garbage bills.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors July 2 awarded a three-year contract for trash pickup to Arrow, which will take over the duties Oct. 1. ADSI will replace WastePro, which has come under intense scrutiny from supervisors after missed pickups and poor communication in recent months.

Brookhaven aldermen have heard similar complaints from constituents and even each other.

“Waste Pro did not come Monday, which is our street’s first scheduled day for pickup,” Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill said Thursday. “They did not come Tuesday or Wednesday to catch up and as of 9 a.m. today, our second scheduled day of pickup, they still have not come.”

Harrigill said Friday they finally picked up her trash Thursday afternoon and then tossed the can into the ditch where her neighbor retrieved it so her elderly father wouldn’t have to.

At the June 21 meeting, Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron questioned ADSI and Metro about a contingency plan for missed garbage.

“I’ve gotten calls that a whole street has been missed. What kind of guarantee are you all going to have if you get a call from us? They’re holding us accountable when the garbage is missed,” Cameron said.

Harrigill also asked Waste Pro at that meeting how they could say they had a near-perfect efficiency rate.

“You represented to this board you have a 99.993 efficiency rate,” she said. “I want to know who evaluates and comes up with that number, because I’ve only been on this board for 11 months and garbage has been the biggest complaint and headache, and if you want to say in 11 months you have have 99.993 efficiency, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about and I want you to tell me why you made that representation to us.”

Waste Pro representative Jolene Johnson said that in a month the handlers record 54,915 total touches of trash. She said the company received 143 complaints in the last four full months of pickups for an average of 36 complaints, or misses, per month.

“Even though some of those were completed after the fact, we still counted them as complaints,” she said.

Johnson said the 36 is divided by the number of “touches” in a month.

Harrigill, an attorney, didn’t accept that answer.

“You have not been receiving all your complaints, we have,” she said. “We’re giving you the complaint numbers so you don’t actually know what the complaint totals are. You’re not responding, we are. We shouldn’t be getting the complaints to start with. Right there shows that whatever your efficiency number, it can’t be possibly be anywhere near 99 percent because we’re getting the complaints and having to respond. We’ve had to hire someone to take your complaints and give them back to you.”

The city severed its contract with Waste Pro for debris pickup earlier this year and took on the duties itself after continued complaints over missed pickups.

Mayor Joe Cox said the board can ask representatives of the three companies questions Tuesday, but the deadline for negotiating has passed.

“Our intention is to walk out of there with a decision and award a contract effective Oct. 1,” he said.