Globe residents with something to say about their garbage and recycle collection service will have an opportunity during next Tuesday’s city council meeting.
City Manager Paul Jepson said that representatives from Right Away Disposal (RAD) will be “speaking to the issues” at the meeting which begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 in council chambers, 150 N. Pine St., in Globe.
Since Jan. 1, 2011, RAD — established in 2007 and based in Apache Junction — has handled garbage pickup and disposal in the City of Globe. The company provided each resident and business with both a trash can and a can for recyclables, picked up once a week.
In 2016, RAD was awarded the contract again after the city sought bids for its garbage and recycle collection services, Jepson said.
About a year ago, RAD was acquired by a larger firm — Waste Connections, based in the U.S. and Canada — which has been upgrading equipment as well as addressing safety concerns, he said.
Existing safety issues include garbage trucks having to back up hills, said Jepson, calling Juniper Street “a prime example.”
Other issues include narrow alleys with less than a foot of clearance for garbage trucks, as well as overhanging power lines that the arm could come in contact with while lifting a can to empty it into the truck.
As part of the transition, RAD is “not going into some alleys anymore,” said Jepson, acknowledging that will force some residents to put their garbage cans in the street.
“We don’t want to burden people who are elderly,” he said. “We’re trying to find that balance between service and safety and to work out the mechanics of it.”
Jepson said that placing garbage cans in the street is also an aesthetics issue at a time when Globe is undergoing beautification efforts.
For its part, RAD has had a “changeover in drivers” and most of its drivers live in the Valley.
RAD requires its drivers to have a CDL, and Jepson encourages qualified locals to apply for the job, which pays about $18 to $20 per hour.
“If they had some local drivers, RAD could leave the garbage truck here,” instead of driving it back and forth to the Valley every time, he said.
Jepson said that sometimes new drivers, or even experienced drivers who don’t live in Globe, “tend to be in a rush and customer service tends to drop.”
“There have been a number of issues,” he said. “There have been misses in multiple houses. We are working together to find ways to do better.”
The city requires its residents to use RAD for trash service.
“It’s really a health and safety issue,” Jepson said. “Modern cities require trash collection. It’s the gold standard.”
“If not, our blight issues would be worse,” with residents letting their trash pile up instead, etc., he said.
“Since we do require it, then it is the city’s responsibility to ensure good customer service,” Jepson said.
The Globe City Council held two executive sessions in April on “legal advice and direction regarding the contract for garbage and recycle collection service.”
Under Arizona law, a council can meet in private (called an executive session) but it is not permitted to vote. State law requires that any such vote must take place in a public meeting, except with regard to employee salary discussions. The public is not allowed to attend nor listen to the discussions in an executive session, and the minutes are confidential.
Arizona law allows seven authorized topics for executive session and seeking legal advice with the city’s attorneys is one of them.
Globe Mayor Al Gameros described the council as “well aware of the problems that are occurring with RAD,” and held the executive sessions “to discuss our options.”
He was tagged in a recent, lengthy thread on local social media about numerous customer complaints against RAD.
In his own posted comments, Gameros said, “We have already resolved some areas that were affected by some of their internal changes.”
Responding to comments speculating that council members receive kickbacks from RAD, Gameros said, “No, our council is not getting any kickback.”
“This situation is a little more complex than just changing companies,” he said. “We are under a contract that we can get out of, but we better have a plan in place on how we take care of our residents.”
Gameros encouraged residents to call City Hall “and report any issues so we can document them as they occur.” He also recommended attending the May 14 meeting, “in which RAD representatives will be present to answer questions.”
“Please be aware that your council is working hard towards a solution to this problem so that all residents will be taken care of,” Gameros said. “Your council hears you and truly cares about our city’s future.”
Contacted by the Silver Belt for further comment, Gameros referred to his remarks on local social media, saying that they cover “the information that needs to be known.”
“We represent all residents and there is the other side that are happy with the service,” he said. “We are dealing with some internal safety issues with RAD that were set in place lately to assure that all areas continue to get their garbage picked up.”
“I believe that, in any situation, both sides need to be given the opportunity to be heard,” Gameros said. “My hope is that we come up with a solution to this problem that our residents are happy with and cost effective.”
Contacted by the Silver Belt, RAD District Manager Jeremy Takas said, “I do not have any comments at this time. I am just showing up (to the council meeting) to answer any questions the council might have and to give an update on how service is going and how the waste industry as a whole is looking.”