POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Following well over a year of trash pickup delays and two emergency declarations, FCC Environmental Services and Waste Management submitted proposals for new contracts once theirs expire in fall 2024.

“What would you tell the people of Polk County is the reason why you should get another contract after what happened last year?” asked reporter Staci DaSilva.

“I think we’ve recovered quite nicely, at least in most cases,” said Jim Suter, general manager for FCC. “I think we have worked very hard at righting this ship.”

FCC serves customers in western Polk County. It had issues with supply chain, equipment, and labor shortages dating back to early 2022 when the county declared a state of emergency for trash pickup.

Since then, the county has taken over trash pickup for some areas south of Highway 60 and hired two companies to help pick up trash where neighborhoods are missed, according to county commissioner Bill Braswell.

“And there you get the problem,” Braswell said. “Are they really getting better or are we just cleaning up behind them better?”

Meanwhile, Waste Management, which serves the eastern side of Polk County, experienced its own significant pickup delays more recently.

A state of emergency for trash pickup in eastern Polk County was declared in November.

“We know we had a real bad end of the year but we’re making strides and improving every day,” said Bill Stubblebine, director of operations at Waste Management at Tuesday’s board of county commissioners’ meeting.

Stubblebine told commissioners he was brought in from the Jacksonville area two months ago amid a change in leadership at Waste Management in Polk County.

“We felt it was necessary because we weren’t seeing enough improvements quickly enough,” Stubblebine said. “Things were moving, things were getting better but not necessarily quickly enough.”

“Please know that we still have issues, especially in the Davenport area and Poinciana area, and hopefully within the next couple of weeks, based on what you’re seeing, that we will see that improving,” commissioner Martha Santiago told Stubblebine during the meeting Tuesday.

FCC and Waste Management, in addition to two other companies, have submitted proposals for new contracts once theirs expire in fall 2024.

The selection committee, made of county staff and commissioner Bill Braswell, met for the first time Tuesday and will review the proposals before making recommendations to county commissioners.

“The idea is you put the past behind you when you do this kind of thing. Obviously, it’s going to be in the back of my mind. There are questions in there that deal with past performance, which I’m very well aware of their past performance,” Braswell said. “FCC has really turned the boat around. That shows a willingness and an ability to do that. Waste management’s been a little bit slower at that.”

When the new contracts go into effect on Oct. 1, 2024, recycling pickup will no longer be included.

Residents who want their recycling picked up will have to hire a company to do it. Appliance and furniture pickup will be done once a month, rather than on demand.