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Trash hauler gripes pile up
Residents complain of spotty service. The company says it's a misunderstanding.
By HELEN ANNE TRAVIS
Published June 30, 2007
DADE CITY -- After almost tripling its residential customer base since the start of 2007, the trash hauler serving Dade City and parts of central Pasco has struggled with curbside service, residents and city officials say.
The problems seem to be worst in Dade City, where residents have complained to elected officials about the company, Central Carting Disposal.
Tuesday, at the City Commission meeting, trash trouble came up.
Commissioner Eunice Penix said people have flagged her down to tell her their garbage isn't being picked up.
"It's a citywide problem, " she said.
That has some residents dealing with things on their own.
Larry "Coach" Wright flagged down the Central Carting Disposal garbage truck Wednesday. For the past two months, a pile of black plastic bags filled with yard waste has sat outside his mother-in-law's home on Tuskeegee Avenue.
Wright, 61, complained to the driver, who told Wright he'd be back Thursday to pick up the bags. They were gone by noon.
Across the CSX railroad tracks on Bougainvillea Avenue, the trash service has also been spotty in the neighborhood of City Commissioner Camille Hernandez.
Her neighbors have had full garbage cans left behind after the trash collectors came, Hernandez said at Tuesday night's meeting.
"It was like they looked at it and said, 'We're going to take that and not pick up that, ' " she said.
Justin Fletcher, Central Carting's operations manager, said he was surprised to hear complaints from Dade City.
"It's got me a little shocked because everyone at the city has my cell phone number, " Fletcher said.
Central Carting and Dade City entered a five-year contract in 2005. Residents in Dade City pay $10.50 per month for trash collection. Part of that charge goes to Central Carting. The rest goes to the city's sanitation services fund, which maintains a closed dump site on Parrish Grove Road, said Harold Sample, Dade City's former manager.
Sample attributed the city's service complaints to growing pains on Central Carting's part.
Central Carting has served Pasco County for 10 years, but its residential customer base has tripled since January.
Fletcher said that the company took on 12, 000 customers dropped by Waste Management that month.
The company grew even more in June.
That's when All County Hauling, a provider in southeast Pasco, lost its license, said Bob Sigmond, fiscal and businesses services director at Pasco County Utilities. Central Carting picked up an additional 4, 000 residential county customers.
And problems have popped up outside of Dade City, residents say.
Brian Gant, a homeowner in the Villages of Wesley Chapel, said Central Carting has skipped his subdivision several times this year. The problems began one Thursday in February.
"Everybody's trash stayed out there the entire weekend, " Gant said. "It smelled, but I was more concerned about the rodents."
Fletcher said he wasn't aware of any complaints from the Villages. He said he would investigate.
Sigmond said that for years, Waste Management picked up some trash for free in parts of central Pasco, and many residents assumed their taxes or community association fees paid the trash bill.
"They were never billed, but their trash was picked up, " Sigmond said.
His office received hundreds of angry phone calls after Waste Management stopped service east of the Suncoast Parkway in January.
Central Carting gave customers until March to sign up for the company's service. After the grace period, Central Carting picked up trash only for paying customers.
Some residents assumed Central Carting would give the same free service as Waste Management, Fletcher said.
But Waste Management is much bigger than Central Carting, he said. It could afford to give free service.
A company must meet certain county requirements to haul residential trash, Sigmond said. Haulers must agree to pick up trash twice a week and recyclable items once every other week.
There are also insurance requirements. Licenses are renewed each year. The county sets the maximum fee a hauler can charge customers, currently $9.34 a month.
County commissioners meet July 10 and will consider raising this fee to $11.24, Sigmond said.
Customers are free to choose their provider if multiple haulers serve their area. Cities, subdivisions and mobile home parks may enter contracts with an individual hauler.