[Imagine Collection]Flint’s garbage collection contract runs out as city scrambles to maintain service
FLINT, MI — You can still set your garbage on the curbside in Flint.
It just isn’t clear whether anyone will pick it up.
The City Council turned down a 90-day, $1.4-million contract extension with Republic Services at a special meeting Wednesday, June 30, offering instead a shorter-term deal to continue garbage, recycling, and yard waste collection in the city for an additional 30 days.
Republic’s existing contract with the city expired when the clock struck midnight Wednesday, and although the company had agreed to the 90-day contract, its officials have not committed to accepting the replacement council proposal.
“Our agreement expires at midnight,” Jamoni Harper, an area leader for Republic, told the council Wednesday. “So our intent is to have a signed agreement to continue service tomorrow.”
MLive-The Flint Journal could not immediately reach a representative of Republic for comment on the status of its operations in Flint on Thursday, July 1, but officials have said they needed at least a 90-day contract extension to be able to continue servicing the city.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley, who supported the 90-day contract extension, said in a statement late Wednesday that he would review council’s action and “immediately begin working with our service provider to determine if they will accept the changes made by council to the negotiated proposal.”
“We understand the importance of securing a working contract and providing critical services to the residents of the city of Flint,” Neeley’s statement said.
Representatives of the mayor have warned the council that it risked leaving Flint without waste collection services if it did not approve the extension, but members said they would not support another three months of service under the proposed $1.4-million deal, which included a $292,000 fee to bring additional workers to Flint.
They also criticized Neeley for not bringing a contract extension to them sooner than the week the existing contract was set to expire.
Republic has not endeared itself to council members, Flint residents or Neeley as the company has struggled to pick up yard waste for months throughout the spring and summer.
On Monday, the company said curbside recycling would be delayed this week as it tries to catch up with yard waste collection in the city, a problem it has said has been caused by a driver shortage.
The city attempted to put its waste collection contract out for bids months ago, but officials have said the process of opening bid proposals was botched because it wasn’t done in public view, forcing it to restart the process from the beginning and extend Republic’s contract.
A second attempt to open new proposals on a long-term contract for waste collection is scheduled to take place on July 12.
Council members Eric Mays (Ward 1), Maurice Davis (Ward 2), Jerri Winfrey-Carter (Ward 5), Monica Galloway (Ward 7), and Allan Griggs (Ward 8) voted to support a 30-day contract extension with Republic. Members Santino Guerra (Ward 3), Kate Fields (Ward 4), Herbert Winfrey (Ward 6) and Eva Worthing (Ward 9) voted against the offer.
Council members did not vote on the 90-day extension that the Neeley administration negotiated with Republic.
In a Facebook post after the council vote Wednesday, Worthing advised residents with garbage collection scheduled for this week to put it on the curbside even though it may not be collected.
“I strongly urge you to put out your trash on your trash day this week. Even though council failed to pass a valid resolution for garbage pick up … Republic may still pick up garbage in good faith …,” her post says. “What happened tonight is absolutely unacceptable. Garbage is an essential service and residents of the city of Flint should not have to worry about if their trash will be picked up in this summer heat.”
Residents who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting said they were frustrated with the uncertainty of the city’s waste collection, and one man suggested uncollected garbage could be dumped on the lawns of City Council members.
“We are kind of in a bad spot here. We don’t have many options …,” said resident Leslie Haney. “Can you imagine garbage piling up in the city? That’s a public health emergency.
“I don’t know who to blame …,” she said. “However, the residents shouldn’t have to suffer.”
Read more on MLive:
Republic Services pulls garbage trucks off Flint routes after driver threatened with assault rifle
Flint City Council delays vote on garbage contract until day it’s set to expire
Waste hauler Republic apologizes to Flint for ‘unacceptable’ service