I-TEAM: City takes step to scrap trash hauler's contract

Republic Services gets termination notice after missed pickups, other issues

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is moving forward with plans to scrap its contract with a waste vendor in response to loads of complaints about uncollected trash pickups and unreported spills.

Last week, the city gave Republic Services of Florida notice of its plans to terminate the contract, saying the vendor has not taken steps to correct the issues despite repeated nudging from city staff. The company was given 30 days to come up with a detailed plan to address the problems.

“If such plan is deemed insufficient, the City will present and prosecute this matter to the Jacksonville City Council in a public hearing concerning the grounds for this termination,” Will Williams, chief of the city’s solid waste division, wrote in an Oct. 24 letter to the company.

DOCUMENTS: Read a copy of the city's notice to Republic Services

Since October 2018, the company has failed to pick up waste on time, address complaints in a timely manner, notify the city about spills or clean them up quickly, and repair and deliver garbage and recycling bins on time, according to a copy of letter obtained by the News4Jax I-TEAM.

The city’s decision comes two weeks after an I-TEAM investigation found Republic Services and Waste Pro, another vendor, each missed 7,000 pickups this year. City records show both vendors have been fined, including $220,000 charged to Republic for 2,800 non-compliance issues.

In an Oct. 4 status report to Mayor Lenny Curry's office, the city's public works department said it was continuing to receive notices about missed collections in Arlington, an area that a city map shows is served by Republic Services, even with "constant attention" by city staff.

Brian Hughes, the city's chief administrative officer, told News4Jax earlier this month the mayor's office was frustrated with the lack of consistent service from some of the city's vendors.

"All solutions are on the table," Hughes said at the time. "We have a number of rights in our contracts when we have given them opportunities to give good, consistent service, and they fall short."

Like the city, its residents aren't satisfied. Evelyn Story, who lives on Jacksonville's Northside, is no longer surprised to find the top ripped off her garbage can, which brims with uncollected trash.

"Every day I have to smell that," Story told News4Jax. "I have to see if they came this week, and they didn't, so I am having to smell it. ... It's not sanitary."

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.