VOL. 133 | NO. 111 | Monday, June 4, 2018
Strickland Working Toward Garbage Pickup Overhaul
By Bill Dries
By the fall, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland hopes to have a plan to overhaul city sanitation services – specifically the yard waste curbside pickup that has caused a lot of citizen complaints.
Meanwhile, the city is preparing to bid the four-year contract with Inland Waste Services for solid waste pickup at 35,000 homes in East Memphis that runs out a year from now.
The city public works division began fielding complaints about Inland’s service earlier this year. The complaints have prompted the city to put crews along Inland’s routes to get garbage picked up faster. Under terms of the contract, that has included using another vendor and charging Inland for the expense.
“Our system is broken,” Strickland told the Memphis Rotary Club last month. “We do a really good job of picking up what’s in the can. Your trash and recycling in the can – we pick it up every week and we’re like 99.5 percent accurate at that. What we don’t do a good job at is picking up stuff outside of the can – 75 percent of which is yard waste.”
Strickland was talking about pickups by city crews.
He said many Memphians aren’t aware that for yard waste left by the curb, there is not a weekly pickup. Citizens are supposed to call the city to pick up curbside trash and the city then has 21 days to do it.
As a two-term City Council member and former council chairman, Strickland said he wasn’t aware of the 21-day period until he became mayor.
“I’d be shocked if many people knew that,” he said. “You certainly don’t know you are supposed to call it in. So the system is certainly not working.”
Council members discussing the 21-day period recently said most Memphians probably assume yard waste is a weekly pickup.
The multi-year contract currently held by Inland Waste that serves 35,000 customers in the eastern part of the city runs out a year from now. The city will put out a “request for qualifications” this September as part of the process.
“We’re not firing Inland. We’re not dismissing them,” said city spokesman Arlenia Cole. “What we are doing is a request for quotes. That won’t happen until September. Inland could bid on the contract if they wanted to.”
In 2015, the city put Inland on a 15-day probationary period because of similar problems. The year before, the city of Germantown terminated its contract with Inland following the same kind of problems.