By Bryan Boggiano
City staff spent time at Wednesday’s meeting talking trash about a proposed rate increase.
The controversy centered around increasing solid waste assessment rates despite the city receiving complaints about Waste Pro USA’s service and trash pickup.
The current solid waste assessment for a single-family homeowner is $290. The proposed preliminary rate for the 2022 fiscal year is $322 — or about $2.67 more per month.
Mayor Scott Brook raised concerns about Waste Pro failing to fulfill trash pickup in some neighborhoods and residents’ complaints about the issue.
“What’s going on is so inefficient, and the complaints are just exacerbated and exacerbated,” he said.
Commissioner Nancy Metayer echoed the same sentiments, saying, “I don’t think it’s fair for us to go on and consider them [for contract renewal] based on their performance. They haven’t been doing a good job.”
According to John Norris, director of public works, the rate increase is primarily due to large amounts of trash generated in the past year resulting in increased disposal costs. During the pandemic, houses generated more trash, especially as families spent more time at home.
The industry is also facing challenges.
He notes that Coral Springs is not the only city facing these issues, and Waste Pro is not the only company facing challenges.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Waste Pro acknowledged these issues saying the pandemic significantly affected operations, but they are working to improve them.
Some of the company’s issues are a driver shortage, few applicants, demand for drivers and helpers exceeding supply, and supply chain issues that led to delays in repairing trucks.
To combat this, the company hired a full-time recruiter focusing on Southeast Florida, started training new drivers and helpers, and implemented sign-on, retention, and referral bonuses up to $5,000.
Without the preliminary rate increase, the city would have to find ways to save money. This could include cutting bulk trash pickup to once a month.
Norris said that the city is working on getting rental trucks. Also, a nearby city in Waste Pro’s Pompano branch is ending its contract with the company in January. This, he said, will allow more trucks to serve the city. At the meeting, he noted that Waste Pro’s customer service has improved during his tenure.
Norris said that Coral Springs is participating with the Broward League of Cities in the Solid Waste Working Group to find sustainable solutions for waste disposal.
Commissioner Joy Carter said that renegotiating the city’s contract with Waste Pro, which expires in 2024, could result in residents paying substantially higher fees. Commissioner Shawn Cerra said that while the increase puts the city in a rough place and that contract renegotiation concerns him, he hopes to help the industry and city advance and educate residents.
The commission passed the preliminary rate increase unanimously and will discuss the preliminary assessment on Sept. 13, where there will be a public hearing before a final vote.
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.