PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Port St. Lucie leaders Monday night said they may consider giving credit to Waste Pro customers who have been dealing with ongoing trash pickup delays.
Piles of trash, according to city leaders, are still sitting outside homes for a week, or in some cases, more than two weeks past the scheduled pickup dates.
Because city leaders expect growth and property values to exceed what was expected, they could consider dropping the millage rate, which impacts property taxes. Additionally, City Council members expressed support for giving residents a one-time credit, though no official decisions were made Monday.
The idea will be discussed later as a possible budget recommendation.
"All of us who have experienced this lack of service deserve some immediate relief, so I would be in support of aggressively going big and going bold," said City Councilman Anthony Bonna.
Thousands of residents have complained about trash pickup issues, with some reporting the pickup delays causing rat problems, maggot infestations and sanitation concerns.
In the Torino Lakes neighborhood, a leasing agent said the trash also has an impact to curb appeal as they work to attract new residents.
"They have been probably once every 10 days, if that," said leasing agent Taryn Wheeler.
According to Port St. Lucie Mayor Shannon Martin, Waste Pro has fallen so far behind that it would take 30 trucks running every day, six days a week to catch up to go back to two-day per week pickup.
Last month, the city said Waste Pro claimed it could get back on track if it paused recycling. City leaders said that did not help.
"Waste Pro is simply not keeping their word," said Bonna. "They're playing games, and if we were to make a concession like, 'Oh, Waste Pro, pick up once a week,' my fear is that we can't trust them to even do that."
City leaders also said Waste Pro would report serving specific routes, but city staff would go back and find only a portion of the route has been serviced.
That is putting a burden on other city resources.
Public Works staff members are being pulled from drainage projects to drive compactor trucks, according to City Manager Russ Blackburn.
Code enforcement officers have to follow up on trash routes to make sure Waste Pro actually serviced them.
"They ought to be out doing code enforcement complaints, being able to help us in other areas, and instead they're doing Waste Pro's job," said Blackburn.
The city's new waste provider, FCC Environmental Services, has started running a few trucks before their contract begins in September, but at an added costs.
The city also hopes an ongoing lawsuit will help cover the added costs. City Attorney James Stokes said the lawsuit could be worth $30 million or more, but it could take years to see that money.
New waste bins for the new provider will be delivered in August before it takes over in September.
The city attorney Monday announced a new email they are asking customers with the most egregious delays to use, such as delays of more than a week.
Wasteprolawsuit@cityofpsl.com will collect complaints from people willing to give their name and address and testify for the lawsuit. Stokes said in court that Waste Pro has denied being far behind schedule.