PRATTVILLE – William Moody just wants his trash picked up.
The Autauga County resident lives near Marshall Drive, just steps from the city limits of Prattville. He is among a group of citizens of Autauga and Elmore counties who have complained about the service provided by Waste Management, the company responsible for collecting solid waste in rural areas of both counties.
âThe service is very spotty,â said the retired truck driver. âSometimes it takes three weeks before we get a pickup, and it’s supposed to be once a week. We never know when or if they’re coming. If they miss a week, they don’t come another day.
âI called a few times and tried to complain and when I can get by I don’t get any help. Other times I’ve been put on hold for half an hour or more and I don’t. Never talked to anyone and I just hung up. Something needs to be done. The people of the county are not being served. “
It costs him about $ 17 per month for the service.
The County Boards in Autauga and Elmore Counties have been receiving complaints from residents for several months. The gripes include missed collections, sometimes for several weeks, irregular service, neighbors receiving service and other missed neighbors, and long wait times to speak with customer service representatives and file complaints.
Waste management officials could not be reached for comment. But at an April committee meeting in Prattville, Van Forrestor of Waste Management told the board that the company underestimated the routes the company took over from the previous service provider. Swapping the routes to the waste management system took time, he said.
Then, in September, officials from Waste Management appeared before the commission again. Then they said they were having trouble hiring truck drivers. The job requires drivers to hold a commercial driver’s license. Waste Management had lowered the minimum age for drivers from 21 to 19 in an attempt to reach a larger pool of applicants. Even so, if hires were made, it would take several weeks to train the new drivers, representatives said at the time.
“The service is still terrible, it has not improved,” said Commission Chairman Jay Thompson.
The commission took the unusual decision to seek service offers from other vendors, essentially canceling the waste management contract with two years remaining.
The offers will be submitted to the committee at the December 7 meeting.
âIt’s not something that we want to do, but it’s something that we think we have to do,â said Thompson. “We gave them every opportunity to solve the problems and solve the problems. And the problems are still there.”
In 2007, Autauga County enacted mandatory weekly garbage collection for rural parts of the county to combat illegal dumping. The inhabitants therefore have no choice, they must comply with it. The commission awards the service contract through a call for tenders.
Elmore County does not have a mandatory pickup requirement in rural areas. Service has improved in recent times, said Elmore Commission Chairman Troy Stubbs.
âI get a daily update at 6:45 am,â he said. âFor the past few weeks we haven’t had a driver and all routes have been covered. It’s a good start to the day considering what we’ve been through over the past few months.
“Now of course we always have complaints. Maybe someone was missed, maybe a trash can was damaged. But that is nothing like what we were dealing with.”
Service is still spotty, said Lagen Allison, who lives on Lake Jordan.
âWe are on a small street with only three houses,â she said. “I can say when we have a replacement driver because we miss each other. It is improving. It is nothing like the problems we have had this summer.”
Yet the Elmore Commission is looking for ways to improve service. Many municipalities in the county contract with Waste Management for the collection service.
Stubbs would like governments to join forces.
âBy working together we would have a larger customer base, which would make contracts more attractive to a service provider,â he said. âOverall, this should reduce costs for residents and improve service.
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at [email protected]