‘Total collapse’: Polk County sends warning letter to garbage collection company amid pickup delays

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The company that collects garbage from homes in unincorporated western Polk County was been put on notice with a warning letter giving it 30 days to make improvements.

The letter sent by county attorney Randy Mink called out FCC Environmental Services for “failing to deliver” and “regularly missing collection services.”

“The County is prepared to take all actions necessary to protect its citizens’ health, safety, and welfare, and to maintain the cleanliness of its communities by removing residential waste which FCC Florida has failed to timely collect in accordance with the Agreement,” the letter reads.

The county will do so at the expense of FCC, the letter continues.

North Lakeland’s Sue Pate said she has had to call to complain in order to get her trash picked up.

Sue Pate, of North Lakeland

“It’s ridiculous, [I] shouldn’t have to do that. I mean, I don’t understand how they wouldn’t know that our whole street got missed,” she said. “They’re supposed to pick it up on Monday. They were going until you complained, the whole week. One week, they skipped all together and didn’t pick up at all.”

It’s a story being told over and over again across the western half of Polk County, which is the half covered by FCC Environmental Services.

“They’re just simply not picking up the garbage. That’s what the contract says they’re supposed to do,” Commissioner Bill Braswell said.

Braswell said he has witnessed delays in service at his own home for 18 months.

In the last few months, his office has been inundated with complaints about collection delays.

One man told commissioners he went 13 days without a pickup.

“These guys aren’t missing homes; they’re missing neighborhoods,” Braswell said. “They’ll just drive by a development of 75 homes and bam, 75 homes are missed,”

On Tuesday, FCC Environmental Services general manager Jim Suter passed along News Channel 8’s request for comment to the corporate office.

We have not yet heard back.

At a recent county commission meeting, Suter told commissioners he was hired in October to fix things.

“I was brought in because the company fully realizes that we’ve got a problem,” Suter said. “When you’ve got a problem with people, trucks, or routes, you’ve got a problem with your business.”

Suter said he has worked to recruit more staff and rework outdated route maps, but the county wants to see more done.

“It appears in some places that there is a total collapse, and I don’t know how else to describe it,” Commissioner Neil Combee said.

“You better get off your butt and go to work and get this taken care of because there’s going to be hell to pay,” Commissioner Rick Wilson said.

Commissioner George Lindsey was concerned about how FCC will deal with Polk County’s growing population.

A county spokesperson said FCC is paid $10.38 per household per month, which can equal $9.7 million a year.

Currently, Suter said FCC performs 1,080,000 pickups a month.

FCC’s seven-year contract with Polk County expires in September 2024.

“I don’t want them to go away,” Braswell said. “I don’t want them to fail. I would really like them just to get their act together and get their garbage picked up,.”

Braswell asks anyone whose trash is not picked up on the day it is scheduled, to file a complaint here: https://polkfl.qscend.com/311/request/add.

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