More than a year after the city switched trash haulers in a bid to save money, some residents say they still aren’t satisfied with the quality of service they receive.
“I’m retired from the Army, but I’ve lived all over the world,” David Smith said. “And anywhere I’ve lived — and I’ve lived in a small town in Ohio with about 12,000 people — the sanitation workers were 150 percent better than what I see here.”
Smith, and several other residents living near his home on Brookdale Drive, said AmeriWaste employees are careless when they pick up trash and recycling and often place the bins right in front of mailboxes, creating problems for mail carriers.
But city administrators argue that, despite Smith’s issues, the number of complaints they receive about trash pickup has declined, and that the workers are following protocol and placing the bins within 2 feet of where they picked them up.
“Most of the calls and comments we receive focus on educating our residents on what can and cannot be recycled and what can and cannot be picked up, such as televisions and refrigerators,” said Sarah Greer Osborne, spokeswoman for the city.
“When we do receive a complaint or concern directly from a resident, city staff members work closely with AmeriWaste to quickly address and make all efforts to resolve the issue within 24 hours.”
Representatives of AmeriWaste didn’t respond to multiple phone calls requesting comment Aug. 6, 7 and 8.
While Smith had conversations online with several members of his neighborhood who had similar issues with garbage bins left in front of mailboxes, no one would speak on the record to The Daily News.
But other League City residents told similar stories about issues with service.
Barbara Meeks, for instance, lives on the far east side of town and has had issues with them from the start, she said.
“It’s things like handles being cracked on the trash cans,” she said. “But what really upset me is that I’d set out a package for American Veterans, or AMVETS, when they asked for donations.
“I had a bright neon yellow card on the package, it was all bundled up and had about $500 in small appliances in there. It was in the grass on the opposite side of where the trash and recycle bins were, and AmeriWaste took it. I was livid.”
AmeriWaste League City, a subsidiary of Alvin-based AmeriWaste Inc., took over as the city’s waste collector in May 2018, several months after the city council approved a five-year solid waste collection contract with the company.
Residential rates for garbage pickup increased from $13 a month to $16.05 under the new deal with AmeriWaste, but the rates would have gone up to $17.92 if the city stayed with Republic Services, city staff said.
AmeriWaste won the contract because of its qualifications and because it offered a deal that could save the city more than $7 million over five years, officials said.
The new trash provider gives poor customer service and regularly dumps recycling and trash bins wherever they please, in contrast to the city’s previous provider, Smith said.
“Republic was not the best in the world, but I had only a couple of issues in the eight years I lived here with them, and I would contact them and they were always really responsive. They always seemed to handle themselves in a professional manner.”
But not all League City residents are criticizing AmeriWaste’s service.
“I haven’t had any problems,” Byram Lass said. “It’s probably a combination of individual crews, as some will be better than others.”
And some residents don’t have reasonable expectations, Lass said.
Chris John Mallios, another League City resident, said he has had issues with the company in the past, but that employees currently seem to do a good job in his neighborhood.
Residents should try to place bins somewhere where they might not fall, Greer Osborne said.
“We ask that our residents assist by placing their trash cans and bags out of the path of mailboxes and driveways and to assist their neighbors when wind, rain or other conditions cause a can to fall over and/or roll into the path of traffic or block a driveway or mailbox,” she said.
But it goes beyond cans falling over, Smith argues. He’s frequently had to call supervisors for the company and have them make workers move the bins from where they originally placed them.
Meeks plans to write a letter to company representatives, but hasn’t yet because she’s still so angry about it, she said. She has, however, called the company’s customer service line.
“They were polite on the telephone, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say,” she said. “It’s easy to be polite on the telephone when you’re removed from the scenario.”
For all of the resident criticism of AmeriWaste, however, the city’s previous contractor, Republic Services, has also drawn complaints in recent weeks about erratic garbage pickup in Dickinson.
Dickinson will seek bids for a new-trash hauling contract in August, city officials said.