Months of trash pickup woes end with BCC

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 7/25/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The woes of Advanced Disposal and its relationship with Clay County should soon be coming to an end.

During the July 24 Board of County Commissioners meeting, Greg …

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Months of trash pickup woes end with BCC

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The woes of Advanced Disposal and its relationship with Clay County should soon be coming to an end.

During the July 24 Board of County Commissioners meeting, Greg Huntington, municipal marketing and government affairs manager, for Advanced Disposal explain the company’s goals moving forward and how it plans to mend its relationship with its customers in Clay County. Huntington said the trash company takes full responsibility for all problems the county has experienced.

“I wish I could say we were here under better circumstances, but I’m here representing Advanced Disposal...to take full responsibility for the fact that we have fallen short and in many cases, very short, in fulfilling our contractual obligations as it pertains to your waste management contract that you have with us, as well as the services that the residents expect,” Huntington said. “There are internal issues as well as external issues, but those are issues are ours and they shouldn’t become yours.”

For well over a year, the BCC has received numerous complaints that Advanced Disposal hasn’t provided to citizens who expect their trash and recycled products to be picked up accordingly, and those who have reached out to the customer service lines of the company. At the last BCC meeting, Rollins said he has received numerous letters explaining that when someone calls the customer service lines hoping to receive a solution to their problem, they’re often left hanging with either no reply from the company or a non-answer answer. Huntington assures that these errors are being fixed, though.

On July 13, Huntington and County Manager Stephanie Kopelousos met to create an action plan to fix the woes of the company. That action plan included two key steps in improving the service Advanced Disposal provides to Clay County. The first step has already taken place and will continue to take place, which is customer service. Huntington said customer service has undergone and will continue to undergo internal training to improve their overall service. The second step includes a new position Advanced Disposal has opened up in their faculty. This position will work from noon to 6 p.m. every day to review the complaints the company received the day prior. This staff member will ensure that every complaint was met with a solution.

“Some of our solutions were immediate, but at the same time, we don’t want to just solve the problem in the now, but we want to [provide solutions] that are long-term and sustainable long after I’m gone,” Huntington said.

In other business, Clay County Emergency Management Services Director John Ward, asked the BCC for approval to apply for a grant to help fund six drainage projects. If approved, the Hazard Mitigation Grant from FEMA would fund 75 percent of the six drainage projects with the county covering the other 25 percent. These six projects are already on the BCC’s Capital Improvement Plan, so the projects are already budgeted to be paid in full, according to Ward. If this grant is awarded, the county would only have to cover the cost of 25 percent of the projects.

“We’re hoping to try to save the county some money by applying for this, and these projects are all drainage projects that would hopefully prevent some of the flooding we have in some of our drainage areas,” Ward said.

The total amount of these six projects comes out to $3.89 million, so if the grant is received, the county would only be covering $974,250. The board approved Ward’s request with a unanimous 5-0 vote.

Commissioners also received an update on FEMA reimbursements the county has already applied for. County Finance Director Clayton Meng said Clay County received its first reimbursement installment of $200,000 in Hurricane Irma money from FEMA. Almost as significant as the money itself is the time it took for the money to arrive.

“It’s quite significant that we already received some money back from Irma because that happened, a little over nine months ago, and the reimbursements for Hurricane Matthew took almost a year-and-a-half,” Meng said. “We still have quite a bit outstanding but it’s nice to see the ball rolling so soon.”

In other business, the BCC voted to approve an agreement between Clay County and St. Johns Classical Academy charter school. County Attorney Courtney Grimm explained that in almost every situation, BCC members are prohibited from abstaining from participating in a vote unless a member would receive a personal benefit from something that may be triggered by the vote. In this case, Grimm was speaking to Rollins, who is set to be a teacher at SJCA this upcoming school year, and Commissioner Diane Hutchings, who serves as the Founding President for the SJCA Board of Directors.

“As we discussed, based on your employment with [SJCA], there could be a perceived personal benefit even though it’s actually to your principal,” Grimm said. “I believe that it would be your decision that you would like to abstain based on that and file the actual disclosure.”

Rollins responded by explaining that although he probably could technically vote on this agreement, he would prefer to act in an abundance of caution to rid any potential perception or impropriety and he did so by recusing himself from the vote. Hutchings disclosed her relationship with SJCA shortly after Rollins’ statement and explained that she receives no benefit or gain at all in voting on this agreement and because of that, she would not be recusing herself like Rollins. Hutchings two grandchildren also attend the charter school.

This agreement serves as a way to ensure that SJCA follows the traffic construction promises it has contractually made with the county. The improvements include a Dec. 31 deadline to construct a southbound right turn lane on Canova Road that leads to the SJCA entrance driveway.

The BCC voted 4-0, with Rollins abstaining, to approve this agreement between SJCA and Clay County.

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