City takes action to address garbage collection woes
On Monday, City of Charleston officials met with representatives of Republic Services, the contractor that provides garbage and trash collection on Daniel Island, to address the failed scheduled collection on July 8.
City of Charleston Environmental Services Department Supervisor Matt Alltop described the meeting as “extremely good.” He said that Republic Services General Manager Rob Carter apologized for last week’s failure and that they set up a system to monitor the situation and to increase communication to prevent future problems.
Alltop also said that Republic Services agreed to reimburse the city’s $6,000 expense for performing the service with city crews last week. The city pays Republic Services $44,700 per month for the weekly collection of refuse from Daniel Island.
Monday’s “emergency meeting” was scheduled after over 850 Daniel Island residents did not have their garbage collected last week, until four days past their regular collection date. Uncollected garbage cans and trash bags littered many of Daniel Island’s south side’s alleys and streets for nearly a week. Most of the affected homes were located south of Pierce Street. Some residents’ garbage had not been picked up for close to three weeks, according to Daniel Island Neighborhood Association President Marie Delcioppo.
Alltop said that last week was the first widespread situation involving missed collection on Daniel Island. He explained that his department receives about 5-12 calls about missed service a week, which is less than one percent of the more than 3600 homes that Republic services on Daniel Island every week.
Barbara D. McLaughlin, manager of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association, said that her office receives 5-15 complaints each week.
According to Alltop, Republic Services had a truck break down on July 8 and was unable to compete the route as scheduled. When the company returned on Tuesday, it appeared many residents had already put their cans away. The city expected Republic to finish the collection on Thursday and when that didn’t happen, the city scheduled its own crews for Friday.
McLaughlin reported that her office received 50 complaints through email, calls and Facebook, and Alltop said the city received 46 complaints last week.
Concerned about unsanitary conditions, Daniel Island District 1 Councilman Gary White, who is running for mayor, and Delcioppo, who is running for the city council seat being vacated by White, borrowed a White family friend’s pickup truck on Thursday. The duo collected two loads of loose garbage bags from some of the worst overflowing alleys and streets and deposited them in local dumpsters.
Noting that garbage collection is a basic service that is often taken for granted until it stops, White explained that during his Thursday collection he noticed “maggots everywhere.”
“We should have had gloves,” he added.
Delcioppo, who communicated the situation and updated residents regularly last week through email and social media, echoed White’s sentiment.
“I don’t know how people have lived with it,” she said.
City of Charleston crews and trucks completed collection by early afternoon on Friday.
White said he has noticed an increase in complaints from his Daniel Island and Cainhoy peninsula constituents beginning around February of this year, which he elevates to city officials as he receives them. Alltop said that when he receives specific complaints from Councilman White, or directly from citizens, the city dispatches someone to collect the refuse.
Monday’s meeting with Republic Services representatives resulted in implementation of a 3 p.m. check-in system to help immediately address missed collection areas in the future.
The system was already implemented on Monday evening with the city notifying residents via the POA’s Facebook page that, due to the amount of yard debris that was placed curbside this week, Republic was unable to collect everything and would return on Tuesday to finish.
Councilman White said on Friday that he is in the process of reviewing the city’s contract with Republic to determine what additional recourse the city may consider.
Residents can report pickup collection concerns to the city online at www.charleston-sc.gov/346/Garbage-Collection or by phone at 843-724-7364.