Communication Builds Our Community

County Declares Emergency Over Garbage Collection Problems

Frustration among Polk County residents in the Lake Wales area spread this week to include the Board of County Commissioners, who have been deluged with complaints from residents about missed collections of trash. The issue is only compounded by the mountains of yard waste still remaining on area streets in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in early October.

County Commissioner Bill Braswell introduced the motion to declare an emergency after hearing complaints of up to four-week delays in collecting household waste in certain areas of eastern Polk County served by Waste management, a Houston, Texas company.

"That's the largest (waste-hauling) company in the world," Braswell complained to fellow commissioners and company representatives, but they "can't pick up garbage in Polk County."

The declaration of emergente will allow the county to by-pass the normal bidding process to hire additional waste haulers. Trash collection within the city limits is handled under city contracts, and is not experiencing the same issues affecting county residents.

Representatives of Waste Management blamed a lack of trucks and drivers, and supply-chain issues affecting truck maintenance, for the lagging service. It is widely felt that a one-week maximum in collecting household waste is desirable to avoid public health issues. The county changed from twice-a-week collection several years ago in a cost-cutting move.

The separate problem with Hurricane debris and yard waste is creating its own set of complaints as additional debris from the recent Tropical Storm Nicole is piled atop seven weeks worth of pervious yard waste, in many cases killing buried lawns and shrubbery due to the volume.


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