Problems with one of Jacksonville's yard waste companies, Advanced Disposal, began about a year ago, but nothing has been done to clean it up until now.
There's a chance that Advanced Disposal may owe the city millions of dollars in unpaid fees due to discrepancies in how they report trash.
Channel 4 obtained an email trail, tracing the city's knowledge of the problem 11 months ago. However, nothing was done to solve the problem when it first happened.
A solid waste specialist for the city first noted a problem with a pile of trash off Old Kings Road a year ago and alerted his supervisors.
The problem, the city said, is that Advanced Disposal claims piles of debris are being recycled, so the company does not have to pay a dump fee to the city. Channel 4 obtained internal emails between the city of Jacksonville and the State Department of Environmental Protection, which said, Advanced Disposal does have to pay. The paper work shows that Advanced Disposal will owe the city up to $4.5 million.
"I don't think that's acceptable to the tax payer and I represent the tax payer," said City Councilman John Crescembini.
Crescembini voted against giving Advanced Disposal unrelated economic incentives Tuesday night because he said the company's practices are questionable. The council voted Tuesday night overwhelmingly to approve the incentives in hopes of keeping Advanced Disposal from moving it's headquarters elsewhere.
Advanced Disposal's Marketing Director spoke to Channel 4 about the tax incentives Tuesday, but would not return calls Wednesday night.
Also unanswered, our questions about why a problem was first reported 11 months ago and is still unresolved by the city. Channel 4 checked with the Supervisor of Elections records and found the chairman and CEO of Advanced Disposal, Charlie Appleby, was a contributor to the Mayor Alvin Brown's campaign, personally donating about $1,000. Appleby's company donated $1,500. Appleby was then hand selected by Mayor Brown to be on his transitional team and also serve on the JEA board, before resigning because of a conflict of interest.
We asked the mayor's office about a conflict of interest in this situation. David DeCamp, Director of Communications for Mayor Brown's office sent Channel 4 the following statement: “The city’s Public Works Department continues to review operations at the Old Kings Road Landfill and will work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Advanced Disposal to resolve this issue as soon as possible."
"It is important to note that this operations review is entirely separate from the economic development legislation that City Council passed overwhelmingly last night. We are focused on making both decisions in the best interest of taxpayers. Advanced Disposal continues to be a good partner with the city."