On Tuesday, the Leon County Commission will be updated on a decline in service levels by Waste Pro, Leon County’s selected vendor for garbage and yard waste services.
Specifically, the Commission will hear that liquidated damages are at a three-year high and both yard waste and standard service day misses continue to cause of complaints.
The Commission will also be updated on changes that have been made to address the challenges faced by the vendor.
To ensure performance, the original agreement between Leon County and Waste Pro provides for liquidated damages to be assessed in the event of unresolved customer complaints.
Per the agreement, the ability to levy liquidated damages is a tool the County uses to address non-compliance with terms of the agreement. In addition to levied liquidated damages, the volume and nature of customer calls is another indicator used to monitor Waste Pro service.
For the beginning of 2022, $115,005 in liquidated damages have been assessed, indicating the largest culmination of damages since March and April of 2019.
The staff report states that the “recent increase in liquidated damages is indicative of an overall service decline. Culminating in June, Waste Pro experienced a reduction in service delivery to unacceptable levels.”
The report notes that this “reduction has impacted collection of yard debris, with some areas not receiving service for several weeks. Numerous garbage and recycling routes also were incomplete. Staff remained in near constant contact with Waste Pro leadership in the field and met with impacted residents to validate complaints and ensure citizens receive the service they pay for.”
Waste Pro has acknowledged the broader sentiment of operations not being acceptable in preceding months.
Waste Pro Makes Changes
Waste Pro has made several changes to address the drop in service which has been attributed to a combination of COVID, hiring and retention troubles, supply chain interruptions, and equipment failures.
The update states that, “New interim leadership has made numerous corrective actions to improve staffing, equipment, and service response. To ensure all routes are caught up, additional trucks have been added to service yard debris and Waste Pro is running an extra day (Saturdays) until further notice. It is expected that all customers will receive service as required by the agreement.”
As noted in the update, new management continues to make numerous process improvements focusing on internal and external service delivery. Enhancements have been made in areas such as employee pay, training, investment in technology, hiring of third-parties, transparency, and customer service.
Specifically, wages have been increased 30% for field staff; Waste Pro supervisors are temporarily driving service trucks and weekends are being worked to complete routes; contractor labor was supplemented to double the capacity of bulky pickup as well as double the capacity of fleet repair; and Waste Pro has rented numerous trucks to supplement inoperable fleet.
As detailed in the April status report to the Commission, Waste Pro made recent investments in the collection fleet following a string of hydraulic leaks. The efforts continue to yield positive results, and there have been no reported leak concerns in over three months. Evidence of Waste Pro’s new trajectory is occurring; however, large-scale changes will take time to be felt system wide.
The staff report states that, “County staff remain diligent to ensure Waste Pro resolves customer concerns as they occur.”
In addition, staff continues to actively engage with Waste Pro and monitor contract performance to ensure satisfactory service levels are maintained.