POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) - Piles of trash uncollected in Polk County are becoming a public health concern, according to county officials.
The county is now operating at "emergency capacity" to help with removal of trash after complaints from residents.
"We haven't even had anyone come and empty the trash yet," Lakeland resident Jessica Johnson said.
She tells us her trash hasn't been picked up for weeks. A trash can behind her house overflowed with spoiled food after losing power from Hurricane Irma.
"When you smell the smell out here, I just feel like it's overdue," she said.
"Everywhere is just trash. You look around the corner here, trash. There is trash everywhere," resident Josh Ward told WFLA.
"It's upsetting. It's disappointing. What more do you have to do? Scream, holler and stomp your feet before somebody comes and does something?" Johnson said.
The county claims they've received more than 6,000 complaints, just like hers.
"In response to last week's 6,022 resident calls concerning garbage, routine yard trash, bulk and recyclables still sitting at the curb, Polk County's Waste & Recycling office officials met with Advanced Disposal and FCC Environmental management teams," the county said in a release.
"It's a simple matter, get the garbage off the ground," Polk County Manager Bill Beasely told WFLA.
Beasely said their current trash hauler Republic Services isn't fulfilling their contract, which ends October 1, 2017.
The county has called their two new trash companies to start a week early.
According to a release, "Advanced Disposal and FCC Environmental will be functioning in an emergency capacity assisting residents with the removal of garbage, routine yard waste, bulk and recyclables. Residents must bag or containerize routine yard waste for collection until further notice."
"We don't feel like it was necessary in any way," Republic Services Manager Chris Jones said.
He says his drivers have been pushed to their limits, picking up 30 to 40 tons, more than double their normal loads.
"We're doing everything we can to get the residents served as quickly as we possible, and it would be helpful if the county would work with us instead of against us," Jones said.
Residents caught in the middle say they don't care who does it, they just want their streets cleaned up.
"It's horrible. It makes us mad because we have to come home and look at it," Ward said.
Beasely told WFLA the move to bring in additional trash companies would likely cost the county tens of thousands of dollars. He said the county may pursue legal action to recoup the costs.
The two new trash companies were contracted to start October 2, 2017.
The companies will focus on the following areas where the most complaints were registered:
- South Lakeland
- Haines City
- Lake Wales
Some residents can expect new routes. For more information click here: https://www.polk-county.net/waste-and-recycling/New-Contract-Information/
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