By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The City Council unanimously approved the authorization to issue request for proposal for the possible replacement of its waste collection and recycling contractor July 27.
Local cities in the area, including Dearborn Heights have been getting complaints from residents due to delayed or missed waste and recycle collection by GFL Environmental.
Corporation Counsel Gary Miotke and Mayor Bill Bazzi discussed the performance problems which concluded issuing a RFP for solid waste autoside collection and disposal, yard waste curb collection and disposal, and autoside recycling.
This does not mean the city is terminating its current contract with GFL, commit the city to terminating its current contact with GFL or selecting another contractor in place of GFL, according to a letter Miotke emailed to the council.
“So, in other words we would be able to test the waters, see if it makes sense and then obviously GFL would be able to also participate if they were so inclined,” Miotke said at the meeting. “If we found that we could end up arranging better services, we could end up coming back and making that decision.”
The purpose of issuing the RFP is to ensure that the city is exercising its due diligence in administrating and overseeing this critical function of city government, the letter read.
Councilman Ray Muscat said the council has a whole city to think about and that every member has fielded phone calls on daily basis about problems with trash pickup.
Muscat pointed out GFL District General Manager Sam Caramagno who was at the meeting to answer questions.
“Personally I’ve had a great relationship with GFL, Sam,” Muscat said. “I’ve called Sam on many, many issues and he’s been courteous, supportive and gets things done for me immediately, but overall structure we have a lot of issues in this city, unfortunately. I see GFL as a company and not maybe locally, but otherwise are pursing other communities — just adopting I believe, Allen Park — while we are not being picked up on a timely basis and I think that is a disservice to our community that we’re not looking into making it better for our citizens.
Caramagno said the current problem with collection relates around a labor problem that’s not only in rubbish industry but many issues in the country right now.
“We have taken steps and measures to attract, retain, improve our employee base through bonuses in an attempt to get the staff,” he said at the meeting. “It’s still not yielding quite the results we’d hoped for, but we’re not giving up either.”
GLF had 350 hours of collection and 371 tons of materials collected just on a handful of days alone in Dearborn Heights he also said.
“We’re also trying to keep up with your labor shortage and keep your trash, yard waste and recycling collected,” Caramagno said. “What it has done, it is pushed us to a six day week schedule basically to keep up. What we don’t finish we come back to the next day and so on and so forth.”
Councilman Dave Abdallah asked how much was charged for the extra pickup during those days.
Caramagno responded by saying $225 per hour so approximately $50,000 to $60,000. He added that GFL should be on track by early August.
“We should be in much, much better shape going forward,” he said.
At a previous council meeting, $300,000 was approved unanimously for garbage, recycle and yard waste pickup in an emergency. Bazzi said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking the city how much it spent, so it might reimburse the city for the extra $280,000 used.
“The reason why I put that on the agenda today is because I can tell you between myself and chief of staff and emergency manager we have probably hundreds of calls every day just dealing with just garage,” Bazzi said regarding the RFP. “That doesn’t include everything else from the city — I’m not even talking about DPW who was also receiving calls, and they finally started routing their calls to my office.”
Residents who were impacted by the June 25 and 26 heavy rainfall which lead to flooding in the city still need to call FEMA even if they turned in a flood survey sheet to the city.
To file a claim with FEMA, go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA app, or by call 800-621-3362. The deadline to file for aid is Sept. 13.
The FEMA Recovery Center is at the Eaton Senior Center, 4900 Pardee, and is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. A Business Recovery Center is also open at Caroline Kennedy Library, 24590 George, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
To report flood debris that needs pickup, call the mayor’s office at 313-791-3493.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])