Oct. 3, 2014 Tavares, FL
Update: Oct. 4th - The Daily Commercial had a front page story on this issue, and also obtained quotes that confirmed our prior report's experience (see below) that not all delivered trash carts contained instructions. See their article here.
If you live in unincorporated Lake County (not a City), your new trash collection process starts on Monday. If you live in a City with their own trash pickup process, this does not apply to you.
In this bulletin:
- Lake County Government and/or new vendors may have botched the rollout of new trash pickup services and schedules like they did in my neighborhood.
- If you are in unincorporated Lake County and got new trash bins, how to find your new collection schedules and rules if they were NOT attached to your new trash bins.
- Rumors about how trash collection fees may go up if a couple of incidents occur.
And it seems some of it might be botched up. At least in my neighborhood, we got two new trash bins and NO INSTRUCTIONS or news of different collection schedules. I have not received any mailed instructions either, although a postcard announcing the changes arrived a few weeks ago.
But, NO INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO USE THEM, OR IF THE TRASH PICKUP DAYS WERE DIFFERENT. I checked with three neighbors who also DID NOT GET ANY INSTRUCTIONS, just the bins.
A call to the Lake County Public works Dept. at 352-343-3776 found that the trash collection firm should have attached a bag with instructions to the new bins, BUT DID NOT DO THAT.
PS: There are three new trash collection service firms being used, and mine is WCA. If you also have WCA, you can call them at 800-535-9533. (See below for what happened to me when I called).
Apparently, according the the Director of Lake County Public Works, Jim Stivender, the County is relying on a third party firm to deliver the trash carts and to communicate rules and collection times, BUT, the County did not verify the process was working so that residents were informed. I do not know if these situations apply to the other trash haulers or other neighborhoods. Normally, Public Works is one of the best run County Departments, but they missed this glitch.
Here is what I went through to find out that the third party firm delivering the new trash carts failed to do AND how you can find the new rules and collection times.
1. I visited the Lake County Government website page for the "Solid Waste" department HERE.
And I called the Lake County Public Works Dept. at 352-343-3776 after finding their number on the homepage of the Lake County Government website.
Here are the instructions from the website:
To find out when trash, recycling and yard waste will be collected for each service area:
Step 1: Visit http://gis.lakecountyfl.gov/MyPublicServices
Step 2: Enter the homeowner address in the top right corner, and hit 'enter'
Step 3: The screen will zoom into the address, and the garbage, recycling and yard waste pickup days will be displayed along the bottom of the screen.
Upon visiting the above website and entering my address, I found that "yard waste" would be picked up on Mondays with no instructions on which cart to use, and no starting time. Garbage and recycling, using the two bins, were changed from the current Monday to Fridays. Again no starting time specified.
The problem with early starting times in my neighborhood is we have the Tavares Conservation park across the street and there is a bear and raccoons who raid trash left overnight. And who in a retirement community wants to get up at 6am or 7am to put out the trash? I had sent an email to public works months ago and was blown off, telling me to call the haulers, but they are not local and they didnt' have a number for them.
So, since I got their number today from Public Works, I then called WCA at 800-535-9533 to find out why no instructions were provided. I got an operator in Gainseville who could only tell me that trucks leave their yard at 6am, and could not give me a pickup start time for my neighborhood. She took my information and said she would email the responsible department to call me back (maybe). She offered to mail the instructions to me, but I repeated my concern that the entire neighborhood needed to know the information, but she was in Gainsesville and had no authority to do anything.
I then called the head of Lake County Public Works, Jim Stivender, who explained that a separate vendor distributed the carts and the Lake County approach to "process quality control" (my term, not his) was to establish a call center next week to handle complaints and resolve them one at a time. He says they are already taking 400 calls a day, and will have 6-7 inbound lanes at a call center handling complaints starting Monday. So it seems their approach is not to make the cart vendor come back and give out instructions, but have lots of operators waiting for complaints and resolve them one at a time over the next three weeks. Most businesses try to ensure procedures are verfied to reduce one on one complaints, but that apparently wasn't done here.
Update: One of our readers responded, saying he did get instructions and schedules with his cart, so some residents DID get them.
Since most readers probably do not have a problem with bears or racoons, you should follow the above website links to find your new trash collection dates, rules, and how to prepare "yard waste" for pickup.
It appears that the Lake County Public Works Department relied on WCA or the cart distribution firm for certain communications tasks, but did not implement quality control checks. As Ronald Reagan said, "Trust, but Verify". They also should have had a higher level authority become active on the issue of lack of instructions for an entire neighborhood. Was the task of providing written instructions to residents in any contract, and if so, why wasn't it done?
If instructions were missed for LOTS of bins, I expect Lake County officials to start getting a lot of complaints next week from those who don't read my emails or did not get any instructions either.
You can get the contact info for the Lake County Board at THIS webpage. Remember, Jimmy Conner is the Chair, so he and the County Manager should have ensured there were proper instructions provided to residents and had a quality control process to ensure they were implemented correctly.
PS: On another note related to trash pickup services in Lake County, an informed insider tells me that:
1) The Lake County Board is using up reserves from the expired Covanta fuel generation facility to subsidize higher trash pickup costs. So expect your fees to go up once those funds run out. Gee, I wonder if they are doing that to hide the increased costs until after the next election cycle in 2016? (That is what Obama does frequently).
2) The new trash dump selected by the current Board majority of Jimmy Conner, Sean Parks and Welton Cadwell might shut down due to costs AND they cannot find a buyer. I am told their quoted rates were based on a technology which was recently prohibited, and they have not been able to find a buyer in the industry with deep pockets. If the dump site shuts down, I was told there is no backup contract for an alternate landfill, so costs could go up if that has to be negotiated. If so, remember, Conners, Cadwell and Parks were the ones who pushed that through. (and if the new landfill DOES find a way to survive without drastic rate hikes, then this was just a good rumor). Note: Jim Stivender says he has not heard of this possibility, but that local cities are starting to send their trash to Citrus County and that may be an option. (which will increase hauling rates more). It seems this issue should be part of a workshop to discuss it in the open and hear about options.