After a recent episode of two days with no garbage pickup in Luling, Traci Navarro was ready to complain about the service.
Navarro’s husband was just glad the garbage was picked up, but she was hot about dealing with the problems.
“How is it they don’t have a backup plan?” she said of times when pickup was two days late or totally skipped or the pickup time changed from morning to evening. “They automatically get our money and we expect services to be rendered.”
Navarro isn’t alone in complaining about garbage pickup, noting neighbors and friends in other areas like Destrehan and St. Rose have told her they’re having problems with Progressive Waste Solution’s service, too. Initially, the company was easier to deal with, but she said it seems to be getting more difficult with collections.
Parish Council Chairwoman Wendy Benedetto said she’s been hearing about several Progressive trucks breaking down, which is likely due to the parish giving the company a one-year contract extension that did not include the typical requirement on the company to replace its trucks with every contract renewal.
But Benedetto conceded, “There is no excuse for the garbage not being picked up, though.” She said they are addressing contract concerns now rather than wait until next year before the parish advertises for bids.
The five-year contract was due to expire this year, but was extended 14 months with rate increases as part of a lawsuit settlement between the parish and Progressive.
The contract comes up for renewal Aug. 30 of next year.In 2014, Progressive sued when the parish held payment when the company’s refused to pick up large debris piles that it argued wasn’t part of the contract. When the company refused to pick them, the parish withheld $29,000 in payments and Progressive sued for the money. As part of the settlement, the parish paid funds owed, gave a 14-month contract extension and agreed to rate hikes that included an additional 45 cents a month and then a hike of that amount again in 2016.
The settlement did not hold Progressive responsible for replacing broke trash bins in a timely manner, which many residents complained about. They also cited problems then with trash strewn in yards and streets, as well as trash bins left in the middle of driveways and broken trash bins not being replaced.
Buddy Boe, then the parish’s chief administrative officer, advised not accepting the settlement could have voided the parish’s contract and require it find another provider.
Chandra Sampey, administrative assistant for the parish’s Public Works Department, said Progressive has had service issues with its equipment.
“This is about the time when the trucks start having breakdowns,” Sampey said of why the parish typically requires truck replacement at the time of contract renewals. “That is why the residents are actually feeling it.”
Progressive is obligated to pick up garbage within 24 hours of non-pickup, which Sampey said she verifies by driving down streets to ensure residences are serviced.
If garbage is not picked up, she advised leaving the bin out for this reason although if it happens on a Friday the company doesn’t come back until Monday.
As to the amount of waste allowed for pickup, Sampey said residents have a 10-cubic-yard limit on what they can place on the roadside at a one time.
But she said residents typically leave more than the amount allowed, which Progressive is still picking up.
To have white goods picked up requires scheduling a day for pickup.