Under pressure from Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, the city-parish’s garbage contractor is set to unveil “an improvement action plan” Wednesday to address complaints about residential trash and recycling services.
The move comes a month after members of the Metro Council grilled representatives from Republic Services about its service to the approximately 135,000 households in the parish. Council members say they hear plenty from constituents who are unhappy about missed garbage and recycling pick-ups and other problems.
“After the council meeting, the mayor called Republic and expressed her disappointment in their level of service and told them things had to improve,” Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelvin Hill said Tuesday. “She asked that they come up with a plan and that they share it with the public.”
Broome and representatives from Republic are set to discuss the improvement plan at 10 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall.
So far this year, the city-parish has received more than 3,300 garbage complaints from residents through its 311 call center and 701 for missed recycling pick-ups, Hill said. Last year, the city-parish logged nearly 6,000 complaints for garbage service and nearly 1,000 for recycling, Hill added.
Representatives from Republic Services blamed the issues on a national driver shortage. They said the company had called in a special team it normally deploys during hurricanes and natural disasters to pitch in and help with Baton Rouge trash service.
Company representative have told the Metro Council some of the problems the public complains about are outside their control.
For example, they said, Republic’s contract with the city-parish only applies to picking up trash at occupied homes and they aren’t responsible for picking up trash dumped on vacant lots. In addition, they said, some construction and landscape contractors who are responsible for hauling off waste instead leave in curbside.
The council has floated the idea of rearranging routes for residential twice-a-week trash service to make them more efficient to solve some of the problems, and there’s been talk of tracking garbage trucks, similar to the way the city keeps tabs on its police cruisers.
The city-parish currently contract with the trash company began March 1, 2018 and won’t end until Feb. 28, 2023. The contract can be extended another five years with council approval.
The contract includes a termination clause giving the city-parish the option to dissolve the agreement with written, 10-day notice.
“We're going to give them the opportunity to improve their services and mayor said she will reassess things in a month,” Hill said.