By Mary Spicer
By the end of the day Wednesday, refuse and recycling collection in the City of Meadville is expected to be back on its normal holiday track after falling behind schedule in a significant portion of the city’s north end.
As part of the normal holiday schedule, last week’s pickups by the city’s contracted hauler, Tri-County Industries, were shifted back a day, moving the scheduled Friday pickup in the north end of town to Saturday. On Saturday, however, a significant portion of that normal Friday route was missed.
Plans now call for an extra Wednesday-morning pickup along the entire weekly Friday route — including portions that were already picked up on Saturday. According to Assistant City Manager Andy Walker, Tri-County’s route supervisor has indicated that all refuse that should have been picked up on Saturday will be picked up Wednesday — and that additional refuse beyond what fits in the cart will be accepted for this special pickup only. The entire route will be run again on Saturday, one day later than the normal Friday pickup because of the New Year holiday.
By Monday, residents were making their displeasure known. Noting that he had also received several calls at his home, “I do know that city hall was inundated with phone calls (Monday) and that staff was trying to handle them as best they could,” Mayor Christopher Soff said. “ ‘Very busy’ would be an understatement.”
Both Development Manager Rick Williams, who heads the city’s refuse and recycling program, and City Manager Joe Chriest were on vacation Monday.
In response to what he described as a “flood” of Monday-morning calls, Walker contacted Tri-County’s Meadville route manager, who advised him that the failure to complete the route resulted from a combination of weather-related factors including at least one truck getting stuck, and snowy conditions resulting in Tri-County crews being unable to complete their routes during the 12-hour driving limit allowed under regulations governing commercial driver’s licenses. The route manager did not respond to a Tribune request for comment later in the day.
After discussions with the hauler, Walker said Monday afternoon that he had been told that Tri-County “has experienced similar weather-related problems with all their customers and are doing their best to work through the backlog.” He has also been assured that because Tri-County did not have sufficient capacity to also pick up Meadville’s missed refuse and recycling Monday as they resumed their normal holiday schedule, arrangements are being made to have an extra truck and personnel out on Wednesday to cover both the “normal” route and the entire route that should have been picked up on Saturday — including portions of the route that were actually covered.
“Apologies to all the residents affected on behalf of the city,” Mayor Christopher Soff said Monday evening. Based on his own conversation with Tri-County, “Our contracted refuse hauler is trying to make it right,” Soff said.
As for Tri-County’s overall performance under the city contract, Soff describes himself as pleased. “This is the first issue I’ve heard that has been a problem — other than every once in awhile I do hear about the nighttime collection,” Soff said. “There are several reasons why nighttime collection is actually cheaper for the residents — and everybody knows we’re trying to make it as accommodating as we can. We are sensitive to the cost of refuse hauling. Stressing that complaints have been voiced about nighttime noise on only a few occasions, “Otherwise, I’ve been extremely pleased — and have not heard of any other issues,” he said.
According to Walker, a report on complaints received is a regular part of Tri-County’s reporting to the city on its performance under the contract. Walker said he was not personally aware of any ongoing issues involving the company’s performance.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.