GFL Trash Service Terms Come into Question In South Jacksonville & Jacksonville

By Jeremy Coumbes on November 23, 2022 at 11:16am

A presentation concerning trash service raised a few eyebrows in the Village of South Jacksonville recently in which some claims were made that the City of Jacksonville says weren’t brought up in their contract negotiations.

South Jacksonville Village President Dick Samples invited GFL Environmental to the Village Board of Trustees committee of the whole meeting on Thursday to present information on the recent contract for trash service between GFL and the City of Jacksonville.

Eric Shangraw with GFL told the trustees during the presentation in the open meeting, that in order to have a similar contract locking in a price for service like Jacksonville now has, the Village Board would have to create an ordinance governing trash pick up.

What this is, is our proposal to…to get the contract with the City of Jacksonville, they voted to do that, and that’s going to begin on January 1st. And so starting then, we’re gonna pick up everybody in town, and that everybody has to have service.

Previously, you got to pick your hauler, and uh there was us, there was Trash Queen, we ended up buying out Trash Queen, and you didn’t have to have service at all. But under this contract program, everybody’s in. Just like everybody pays school taxes and police protection, fire protection.

That brings down the cost, but there are people that simply don’t want garbage service, and so that’s kind of the tough nut to crack when you go to a contract like this. But you see the $17.29 [per month] is a pretty good-looking price compared to what we charge individual customers.”

Shangraw went on to tell the Village Trustees that GFL would request a list of residential addresses of residents in the village and presuming the contract went into effect on January 1st as it will in the city, everyone on that list would be given a new trash container and sent their first quarterly bill.

Samples: “So we’re not responsible for collecting any money whatsoever?”

Shangraw: “No, but I need your backing with an ordinance that has teeth, and if I come to you and say here’s ten households scattered around town that aren’t…that are refusing to be a part of the program. We gave them a cart and they threw it at the guy, [or] we send them a bill and they cussed us out on the phone.

We would need you folks to send them a letter uh, either threatening them with a ticket or whatever your ordinance would say, that says to be a member in this, uh, a homeowner or property owner in this community, you have to enroll with the village’s designated contractor for service. Whether you use it or not, that’s the deal. Everybody’s in.

Shangraw made reference to the new contract with the city multiple times during the presentation. After further discussion, Samples then deferred to Village Police Chief Eric Hansell whose department oversees code enforcement in South Jacksonville.

Chief Hansell asked what if a resident were to take their trash and dispose of it themselves, and Shangraw answered that’s not allowed under the contract either.

Shangraw: “And it would be us that would probably…we’d ask for your address list of every residential property in town. We’d send them all bills, and we’ll get calls and notes from people saying I’m not doing it, I’m not paying. They quickly identify themselves. And then, we’d still give them a cart, we’d still try to coach them along, but if they didn’t, we’d provide the list to the village to say then, to send them a letter…

Hansel interjects: So then it becomes my responsibility to become the trash police?

Shangraw: “Um, we’d prefer you send a letter, that’s typically what works, that just simply explains the ordinance that, to live in the community, you have to enrolled.”

WLDS News spoke with Jacksonville City leadership who said the terms presented to the Village Board of Trustees were never presented that way during contract talks with the city. Jacksonville City Attorney Dan Beard said in an interview Tuesday, that “the city’s contract with GFL is an exclusive contract in the sense that they would be the sole [residential] refuse hauler licensed by the city”.

However, Beard says Jacksonville’s existing ordinance doesn’t include language requiring residents to pay for GFL’s service. “Our ordinance in place concerning [the] maintenance of trash service just requires that residents maintain regular trash service or otherwise provide for removal and disposition of trash and garbage from said premises.

So to the extent that there’s any,..there was never any discussion that every household in the city would have to be part of this service with GFL whether they needed trash service or not. And I think from the sounds of it that’s a little bit different than what maybe was presented out at South Jacksonville.”

Beard says neither written in the contract with GFL nor in discussion during contract talks was it ever discussed that the company would request addresses or forward lists of residents so they could be fined for not taking their service.

That to my knowledge was never brought up, and certainly in the past, the city has not enforced any ordinance like that where we would pursue fines against individuals who did not have city trash service.

Rather our goal, and the direction we go, is that if you are allowing a large accumulation of trash and debris on your property we go through the ordinance violation process to get that cleaned up. But it’s only through that ordinance violation process that any fines would be imposed.”

City Clerk Skip Bradshaw and Mayor Andy Ezard both agreed with Beard that the controversial points brought up during the GFL proposal to the village were not brought up during the contract negotiation process.

Village President Dick Samples and the Village Trustees all agreed Thursday after discussion among some present at the committee of the whole meeting became contentious, that the presentation was information that they would have to discuss further at another time.

During that contentious period of discussion, Shangraw commented “I don’t even have a written offer, I was just showing you what we’re doing next door.” Samples said following the meeting that he was not in favor of the proposal’s requirements, but that the board would have more discussion on the matter and trash service in the village overall.