Town finds Waste Pro in breach of contract

Summerville Town Council discussed their contract with Waste Pro Thursday night.

The Summerville Town Council has said Waste Pro is in breach of contract with the town.

Thursday night, council members authorized town attorney G.W. Parker and staff to send a letter to the waste collection company finding it in breach of contract. In addition, the town will discuss an exit strategy from the solid waste collection contract.

In January the town issued a notice to cure asking Waste Pro to fix reported problems with the service. It was given 30 days to fix those problems. Mayor Wiley Johnson said there are reasons to find them in default and things have not improved substantially enough – an example, he said, are residents who still have not received their new recycling bins.

“That and a number of other things have led us to this point,” Johnson said.

Johnson said they are not officially done with Waste Pro yet, “but we have declared them in default and we give them…60 days to exit.”

“We’ll have to have another meeting to figure out: do we really want to do this, do we want to hire somebody else, are we going to put it out to bid to hire somebody else, are we going to look at the original bids that we got…so lot of things to think about,” he said.

Among violations listed in the notice to cure letter, the town stated it has received numerous complaints from residents regarding Waste Pro failing to collect garbage and recycling on scheduled days. It also stated that many residents have yet to receive their new recycling carts and that Waste Pro has not provided the town an accurate list of streets that are still waiting on recycling carts.

Further complaints in the letter included workers not returning the cans back to where they were after emptying them into the truck, garbage trucks leaking hydraulic fluid and liquid waste on roadways, workers emptying recycling carts into the garbage truck without first inspecting the recycling for contamination, and Waste Pro not taking customer calls and returning them quickly.

The decision to find them in breach of contract followed immediately after hearing from Waste Pro officials, who had requested to speak before council.

Robert Allen, director of government relations for Waste Pro, vouched that communication has gotten better with Waste Pro and that the company has been successful in obtaining a local operations manager.

“The commitment is here. I want this to be a success,” he said. “I believe now the communication between the town and Waste Pro is better than it’s ever been…and it has been a matter of tweaking things to where we’ve met the level of your expectation and could perform to that.”

“It has been all hands on deck pushing this to make it work, and I would respectfully request for more time as we tweak this…the systems are in place,” Allen said.

Waste Pro's new operations manager Hal Burch said he has an extensive background in the waste industry and “transforming waste companies.” He said Summerville is an account and opportunity that matters.

“We’re looking forward to being part of this community and to really transforming this company and taking it to the level that I know it can be,” Burch said.

The company's regional safety manager, Tim McDaniel, said it must put other items in place to make it work, and said the employees are committed. He suggested further discussion with the town.

Immediately after Waste Pro’s comments, Councilman Walter Bailey made a motion for council to authorize Parker and staff to send a letter to Waste Pro finding them in breach of contract with the town “due to their failure to cure performance issues” and to discuss an exit strategy. The motion carried six to one; Councilman Bob Jackson abstained.