'Erratic' garbage collection service has Autauga County on verge of dumping Waste Management
PRATTVILLE — William Moody just wants his trash picked up.
The Autauga County resident lives off Marshall Drive, just a stone's throw outside Prattville's city limits. He's among a group citizens on Autauga and Elmore counties who have complained about the service provided by Waste Management, the company that is contracted to collect solid waste in the rural areas of the two counties.
"The service is very erratic," said the retired truck driver. "Sometimes it's three weeks before we get a pickup, and it's supposed to be once a week. We never know when, or if, they are coming. If they miss a week, they don't come another day.
"I've called several times and tried to complain and when I can get through I get no help. Other times I've been kept on hold for half an hour or more and never talked with anyone and just hung up. Something needs to be done. The people in the county are not being served."
It costs him about $17 a month for the service.
The county commissions in Autauga and Elmore counties have been fielding complaints from residents for several months. The gripes include missed collections, sometimes for several weeks, spotty service, neighbors getting service and others next door being missed and long wait times on hold to talk with customer service reps too file complaints.
Waste Management officials could not be reached for comment. But in an April commission meeting in Prattville, Van Forrestor of Waste Management told the board that the company underestimated the routes the company took over from the pervious service provider. Swapping the routes to the Waste Management system took time, he said.
Then in September, Waste Management officials again appeared before the commission. Then they said they were having problems hiring truck drivers, The job requires drivers to hold a commercial drivers license. Waste Management had lowered the minimum age of drivers from 21 to 19 to try to reach a bigger pool of applicants. Even so, if hires were made it would take several weeks to train the new drivers, representatives said then.
"The service is still terrible, it hasn't gotten any better," said Commission Chairman Jay Thompson.
The commission has taken the unusual moved of seeking bids for service from other providers, essentially canceling the Waste Management contract with two years left to go.
The bids will come before the commission during the Dec. 7 meeting.
"It's not something we want to do, but it's something we feel we have to do," Thompson said. "We have given them every opportunity to address the problems and fix the problems. And the problems are still there."
In 2007, Autauga County passed mandatory weekly garbage pickup for the rural parts of the county to combat illegal dumping. So residents don't have a choice, they must comply. The commission awards the service contract on a bid basis.
Elmore County has no mandatory pickup requirement in the rural areas. Service has improved of late, said Elmore Commission Chairman Troy Stubbs.
"I get a daily update by 6:45 in the morning," he said. "For the past few weeks we've had no drivers out and all routes being run. That's a good start to my day considering what we have been dealing with the past several months.
"Now of course we still have complaints. Someone may have been missed, a trash can may have been damaged. But it's nothing like what we have been dealing with."
Service is still spotty, said Lagen Allison, who lives on Lake Jordan.
"We are on a short street with only three houses," she said. "I can tell when we have a replacement driver because we are missed. It's getting better. It's nothing like what problems we were having this summer."
Still, the Elmore Commission is looking at ways to improve service. Many of the municipalities in the county contract with Waste Management for collection service.
Stubbs would like to see the governments join forces.
"By working together, we would have a larger customer base which would make to contract more attractive to a service provider," he said. "Overall that should lower the cost for residents and improve service."
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Garbage service woes continue in Autauga, Elmore counties