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A messy problem made even worse
By ANDREW SKERRITT
Published January 5, 2007
Tammy Thompson and her husband Wade had a house full of guests for the Christmas holidays.
With all the gift wrapping and extra cooking, their trash cans were overflowing the day after Christmas. No problem, Waste Management was scheduled to pick it up.
But their full cans of trash sat on their street in Wesley Chapel all week.
When Thompson, a cafeteria worker at Quail Hollow Elementary, called Waste Management, she came away upset. Seems the garbage wasn't going anywhere. The company would no longer be serving the neighborhood.
The Thompsons knew this was coming, since Waste Management announced in November it would drop about 17,000 customers. But the company indicated nothing would change until after Jan. 1.
Nothing says bad public relations like rotting garbage.
The people in this particular neighborhood eventually found other disposal options. But they're still miffed over the suddenness of it all. Their experience may give a good opportunity for Pasco to rethink its free-for-all system of garbage collection.
The company, in dropping these customers, cited a lack of profits.
Talk about shortsighted. Those areas may be sparsely populated today, but that won't be the case for long. This is a boom town.
Fortunately, there are 11 other haulers in the county.
The rotting garbage turned out to be only one of the problems involving Waste Management. The company mistakenly sent new bills to 9,000 of the customers they were planning to kick to the curb. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Bob Sigmond and his staff at the county utilities department have been struggling to keep up with the phone calls and e-mail from irate homeowners.
Waste Express, Waste Services of Florida and Central Carting Disposal, the three smaller companies replacing Waste Management, are working to catch up with the heavy holiday load.
Not all that long ago in Pasco, it was common to see garbage dumped in the woods and along highways. The county did a good job coming up with ordinances for haulers and building a state of the art disposal facility.
By all accounts the free enterprise, open market system of garbage collection in Pasco has worked. But the price of gas will go up again and another company is going to drop customers because their profits aren't big enough.
As part of the permitting process, why not require companies to give customers more notice if they are going to discontinue service?
And if we are talking about profitability, how about carving the booming county into zones and have companies bid to provide the service? County officials have talked about the idea of franchising, but it's not on the table. Yet.
Whether government or private business handles the garbage business, one thing is certain: People just want it gone.