By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Ongoing delays with GFL’s yard waste, recycle and trash collection were addressed during a June 22 City Council meeting.
For the last few weeks residents have been complaining about the lack of consistent trash pickups and customer service issues from GFL, the city’s contract waste hauler.
A June 25 press release from the city said GFL has been dealing with staff shortages which was not only impacting Dearborn Heights, but other cities in southeast Michigan as well.
During the council meeting, GFL District General Manager Sam Caramagno apologized for GFLs lack of timely service over the last three weeks.
“Following the Memorial holiday we really hit the peak of the spring season with the volume increase and working at eight days of collection so we fell behind, we had a hard time catching up,” he said. “There is, as we are all probably aware, a labor situation in the metro Detroit area as well as nationally in the rubbish business, attracting and staffing properly for these residential jobs.
“We are doing all that we can.We have increased our wages again as we did last year. We are recruiting, hiring and training as fast as we can to bring this schedule back into an acceptable level.”
Caramagno said GFL worked the last couple Saturdays to catch up and clean up what was left behind for the week.
“I’m glad to say we did finish yesterday and we did finish on schedule again today,” he said.
On the morning of the council meeting, Caramagno, Mayor Bill Bazzi, Corporation Counsel Gary Miotke, Emergency Manager Lee Gavin, Chief of Staff Mariana Hernandez, and legal counsel for GFL met where discussions took place on things GFL would have to do, including penally deductions being made from the amounts that would be paid to GFL.
“We talked about a variety of things including getting the schedule back on track,” Caramagno said. “To get the job done we utilized staff from other locations in metro Detroit to have trucks where they need to be.”
Miotke said that he sent a letter to representatives of GFL — including Caramagno — regarding the breach of and default under the contract with the city.
“This letter is to formally notify your company that the city considers your company to be in and to continue to be in breach of contract that it has with the city,” the letter read. “Specifically your company has failed to timely provide services required by the contract with respect to residential solid waste (automated) collection and disposal; yard waste curbside collection and disposal; and (automated) recycling.
“Further these breaches of the contract have been occurring on an ongoing basis involving these collections throughout the city.”
His letter said that GFL also failed to diligently cure its ongoing breaches of the contract in an expeditious manner.
“This letter is to further formally notify your company that the city considers your company to be in default under the contract,” Miotke wrote. “The city cannot and will not tolerate your company’s continuing breaches of the contract that defaults under the contract. At a minimum the city will pursue all possible deductions from your company’s compensation for its non-performance pursuant to the contract.”
To more closely monitor the quality and accountability of GFL’s service in the future, Bazzi has authorized the creation of a new tracking mechanism that will be managed through the city’s public works department, the city’s press release said.
“We will be watching this one closely over the coming weeks and months” Bazzi said. “In short, we must see measurable improvements in the quality of the work we are receiving. We are absolutely not going to let this slide unaddressed, and let our residents continue holding the bag for inadequate service.”
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(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])