Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration has requested an improvement action plan from Republic Services, the city-parish sanitation contractor, detailing ways the company will address recent problems with its garbage and recycling pick up.
Broome, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelvin Hill, and other city officials met with representatives from Republic June 4, days after the Metro Council called Republic on the carpet to respond to mounting complaints about gaps in service.
The company, which has a $26 million-a-year, five-year contract to pick up garbage and recycling, is due to submit its improvement plan by Friday. Hill says Broome will make the plan public so citizens know what Republic has committed to do to improve its service, which has been increasingly spotty since March.
“Nobody is satisfied with the level of service. It’s just not where it needs to be,” Hill says. “The mayor has told them that garbage pickup is a fundamental city service and we expect them to get it right every time.”
At the May 29 council meeting, Republic General Manager Sharon Mann blamed problems on the near-simultaneous departure of nine drivers at a time when there’s a nationwide shortage of truck drivers. Republic has replaced the drivers and is in the process of training them, but problems persisted through last week in some neighborhoods, which didn’t see recyclable collections at all.
Beginning this week, route supervisors took to the streets to ensure drivers hit every neighborhood, Mann says.
“We are in constant contact with the city-parish to make sure we address the issues,” she says.
It’s unclear what, if anything the city-parish will do if things don’t get better or if the company fails to meet the goals and objectives spelled out in its forthcoming action plan. Council members talked tough when Mann was before them last month, but they didn’t threaten to pull the company’s contract.
Broome, meanwhile, has said she wants to meet with the company again in one month but did not give them an ultimatum.
“The intent is to sit down with them again in a month to see if their service has improved to an acceptable level,” Hill says.