Albemarle receives update on leaf collection delays

Published 2:39 pm Saturday, December 23, 2023

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During Monday’s meeting of Albemarle City Council, the board received an update on the status of leaf collection delays by the city’s contractor (Waste Management, Inc.), which have generated numerous customer complaints.

“There have been issues with Waste Management for quite a while,” said City Manager Michael Ferris, “and our Public Works staff has been trying to communicate with them.”

Public Works Director Ross Holshouser reported that as of Dec. 18, the contractor is well behind schedule.

“Waste Management is four days off from being a full cycle behind,” said Holshouser. “They are currently operating two trucks, and according to an email I received today a third truck should be up and running by mid-week if parts come in. Then their goal is to keep three trucks running until they catch up.”

“The last time Waste Management was here, they told us they would take care of notifying (city customers) where they stood,” said Mayor Ronnie Michael, “but I haven’t seen anything come out.”

Holshouser replied that his department, as well as Public Information Officer David Fath, “have emails going back to July where we built a database of customers and sent it to Waste Management, who were supposed to implement some type of notification service, but I haven’t seen anything either.”

“We did reach out to Waste Management and asked them to try to notify residents about the delays in leaf collection,” Holshouser continued. “The response that I got stated that the way their notification system is set up is based on trash collection routes…but, as you know, our leaf collection routes do not align with the regular recurring trash collection schedule.”

“Why couldn’t they just notify everybody?” asked Councilman Chris Whitley.

“That was the email I sent them today,” said Holshouser, “(I asked them) to please notify everybody, because everybody is affected. Her (Marilyn Wells, WM regional manager) response was that she was going to try to get back with her higher-ups and she would let me know.”

“Did they start out behind this year?” Whitley asked.

“They were behind after the first cycle,” Holshouser replied. “We’ve been receiving phone calls since the end of October.”

“I know Council sort of told staff not to do any notifications when she (Wells) was here; to leave that all with Waste Management,” stated Michael, “but either she’s not doing, or they’re not doing what they said they would do.”

In response to a request for suggestions as to how to move forward, Fath recommended that a deadline be set for Waste Management to notify all customers.

“My answer in the short run would be, based on the communication Ross had today about an ‘all customer notification,’ I’d like to give them 24 hours to do that for us. We’ve posted notifications on our website, but I’d like to see (Waste Management) come through. We’ve told them we understand their reasoning for not being able to do individual notifications, but we’d like to give them time to give a full customer notification to everybody affected.”

“They should, and they’ve got to understand that we (Council) can’t go anywhere that we don’t hear about this,” said Michael. “So, they need to be following up on their job.”

“We don’t have a whole lot to hold over their head, since this is the final year they will be doing leaf collection for us,” he added, “but they are getting paid to do it, so let’s do our best to get them to do their job.”

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.