Jacksonville levies tens of thousands of dollars in fines against trash haulers

Yard waste collection delays top 9,000 complaints in just 1 month

It's been weeks, even months since some people had their yard waste collected and their beyond frustrated on paying for a service they're not getting.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city has received thousands of complaints from residents, many of whom tell the I-TEAM they are fed up paying for a service they are not receiving on time.

We’ve discovered that in just the month of August, the city received 9,008 complaints about yard waste pick-up delays. That’s nearly 700 more complaints than were received in July.

The city has repeatedly told News4Jax that, like many industries across the country, that the haulers who service certain parts of the county are experiencing staffing shortages.

Eddie Couillard said the city needs to do more.

“A delay is a week, 10 days. When it’s two months, almost three months, that’s not a delay. That’s ignoring the problem,” Couillard said.

Couillard walked us down his street on Proxima road where we found several of his neighbors with yard trash he said had been sitting for several weeks.

He said he’s had to pay to dump his yard waste at a facility in Green Cove Springs during the last three months to avoid a large pile from building outside his home on the Westside.

We also found a pile outside Fannie Tensley’s home. She lives a few miles away on London Bridge Road.

“It’s been here for about three weeks,” she said. “My yard man did my yard. He put it out here. He told me when he put it there that they’ve not been picking it up.”

Tensley said she is frustrated to be paying for a service that is not being provided on time and said some of her neighbors have been waiting longer than she has for their yard waste to be collected.

The ITEAM has received several calls and emails from all over town about yard waste delays. Most recently, we have received complaints about delays on these streets:

  • Herta Road
  • Transylvania Avenue
  • Sizemore Court
  • Shore Crest Drive
  • Winterwood Lane
  • Fouraker Road

Yard waste delays have increased steadily. The city said it received 8,361 complaints in July. Last month, the number increased to 9,008.

City Councilwoman Randy DeFoor, who represents District 14 which includes some of the Westside, said she has called the city daily to complain. She said she has tried to help as many of her constituents as possible, including 67 who have contacted her since June 17. They live in 25 different parts of her district.

The city’s solid waste division services the urban core but hires three private haulers to service the rest of the county:

  • Advanced Disposal - Westside
  • Republic Services - North and east portions of Duval County
  • Waste Pro - services neighborhoods in the southeast portion of Duval County

The city has fined all three haulers for trash, recycling and yard waste delays. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Advanced Disposal Services: $62,400 fine in July 2021
  • SWS - Republic Services: $1,150 fine in July 2021
  • Waste Pro: $116,425 fine in July 2021

Many customers tell us they don’t understand why their trash and recycling is collected, but not their yard waste. Why not collect everything per street? Others tell us they feel like other parts of town are receiving preferential treatment.

The city said yard waste takes up more room in the truck, which is why it may not be collected as routinely among haulers who are short-staffed.

Our request for an interview with the director of Public Works and Mayor Lenny Curry was declined. But the mayor’s office said it has brought in additional help to support the haulers who are experiencing staffing shortages.

A spokesperson told us city solid waste employees have been working seven days a week to collect waste and city workers in other departments have also been asked to help, especially those who have commercial driver’s licenses and can legally drive waste collection trucks.

“Believe it or not, other city employees in particular firefighters are filling in for drivers,” City Councilman Matt Carlucci said Monday on The Morning Show. “So we’re using city employees, university employees, sanitation workers seven days a week And we have a new hauler coming on which is better staffed and that should be a help.”

News4Jax reported Saturday that Meridian Waste will take over trash and recycling service for Republic Services on Oct. 1.

WATCH: Full TMS interview with Councilman Carlucci

The I-TEAM has also heard that fluctuations in wages offered to incentivize more applicants has caused current waste collectors to resign and work for other haulers that service different parts of town, creating an imbalance of staffing. This may be the reason certain parts of the county are experiencing more delays than others.

If you are having a problem with waste collection in Duval county, here’s how to report it: MyJax app, Myjax.custhelp.com or call 630-CITY (2489).

About the Author:

Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.