A refuse collection company’s effort to enforce its contract terms is causing a big stink in Genoa.
“It’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve seen since I’ve been in the job,” Village Administrator Kevin Gladden said. He became administrator nearly two years ago but had worked in the public works department more than two decades prior to the promotion.
“People have been cussing out the billing clerks, yelling at them. It’s crazy,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Waste Management of Ohio crews began strictly adhering to the weight, bag and container size limits designated in the company’s four-year contract with the village.
That contract, which expires at the end of 2014, allows for weekly pickup of either four 35-gallon bags or four 35-gallon trash containers, with weights not exceeding 50 pounds, including the container. The contract also allows for one bulk item (such as a chair or mattress) to be placed curbside every Monday.
By ordinance, residents and business owners pay $12.40 per month for the service, according to village records. Customers who exceed the bag limit must purchase tags at the village administration office. Extra refuse tags costs 80 cents each and extra yard waste tags are $2.50.
And everyone must pay. There is no opting out of the garbage collection service, Gladden said.
Apparently, trash collectors on the daily street runs had gotten lax in recent years, picking up extra bags at no charge and heavier loads than allotted in the contract, according to Gladden
“They can’t even reach into the cans for bags anymore. People have been getting hurt. There have been injuries, accidents,” Gladden said. “They’ve been stuck by needles, lifted too many things that were heavy.”
The crackdown on trash collection pickup guidelines is Waste Management upper management’s response to that rise in injuries.
Waste Management officials warned residents of the clampdown in letters sent out in recent utility bills. They also received copies of the letters tagged to uncollected trash.
“It’s not happening just in Genoa. It’s something that’s been happening industry-wide,” Gladden explained.
But residents of Genoa aren’t taking the news too well.
And village employees who collect the monthly fee have fallen victim to a litany of rude and obscene comments from frustrated customers, Gladden said.
“People say ‘My garbage cans are the right size.’ But these refuse people have been in the business long enough. They know the size of the containers.”
“It’s not a Village of Genoa policy. It’s in the contract. They have the right to enforce it,” the administrator said.
The problem is, some people have personally purchased the larger trash containers for their own convenience and to cut down on the number of trash cans sitting outside their homes or businesses.
“One downtown business owner called me down to look at his garbage can. The can still had the Rubbermaid sticker on it that said 50 pounds,” Gladden said.
Other residents say they will buy new trash containers, but want the village to reimburse them.
That is not going to happen, Gladden added.
Waste Management will provide a 96-gallon trash container on site for an additional $3 a month charge billed directly to the user. That container, which has wheels and a lid, can be mechanically lifted by equipment mounted on the garbage truck.
“A lot of communities are going to that and maybe that’s something we need to consider when the contract comes up again,” Gladden said. “If you want better service, it’s going to cost you.”
Waste haulers throughout the nation not only have to deal with their own costs, but are at the mercy of the fees that are rising steadily at municipal dumps throughout the nation.
“Those fees keep going up every year,” Gladden said. “It’s ridiculous.”
And, he noted, as that happens, village leaders have attempted to keep those garbage bills at reasonable costs for residents and businesses.
The current fees collected from users don’t cover the refuse hauling costs completely, Gladden said. “For the past few years the village general fund has been supplementing the costs to cover the contract.”