Hilton Head waste hauler asks for changes to town contract

tbarton@islandpacket.comOctober 15, 2013 

The Town of Hilton Head Island and waste hauler Republic Services may part ways sooner than expected.

In the meantime, the company has asked the town to lighten its load before calling it quits on the residential waste-hauling contract.

Republic attorney Steve Weber asked Town Council at its Tuesday meeting to amend the contract to exclude condominium regimes and rental properties, and end Saturday service, beginning Jan. 1. He also asked that the company's contract with the town, currently set to expire in 2016, end instead on Sept. 30, 2014.

"The community has very specific needs on Hilton Head, but the contract doesn't cover those specific needs," Weber said.

Republic claims the town didn't accurately describe the volume of work or define which rental properties it would serve.

Town officials dispute those claims.

Of the hundreds of complaints the town received, many have come from rental properties on Saturdays, when vacationers check in and out. Cleaning crews often don't finish until after the trash trucks have gone, according to town officials, meaning trash can pile up for days until the next pick up.

Several condominium regime managers have also complained of poor service and asked the town to either cancel the Republic contract or allow short-term rental properties and regimes to hire their own haulers.

"The community has spoken," Weber said after the meeting.

Council did not act on Republic's requests, but may do so at its next meeting Nov. 5, Mayor Drew Laughlin said.

In the meantime, the town and Republic would work to revise the franchise agreement based on the experience it's gained, Weber said. The town would then seek new bids, he said.

It was unclear Tuesday whether Republic would bid on a new contract.

Laughlin said he's amenable to Republic's requests, provided other haulers offer recycling services.

Neither the town nor Republic seems satisfied with the nearly 3-year-old franchise agreement.

However, that's not to say the town should give up on providing waste and recycling services, Laughlin said.

Despite continuing complaints about missed pick-ups, the decision to go to a single hauler was a good one, Laughlin said.

Resident participation in voluntary recycling had been poor before the contract, he said.

Since the agreement, recycling volume has quadrupled, there are fewer trash trucks on the road and collection costs for many residents have gone down, Laughlin said.

"We've had some success with this," he said. "... I would like to see if we could craft something that works well -- that does give us the increased recycling, that does reduce the number of trucks on the road and achieves some economies of scale.

"Being in the franchise business and being on the receiving end of complaints and not having a lot of options to address them other than leaning on Republic is not a good place to be."

In other business, council:

  • approved leasing land to the Hilton Head Island Boys & Girls Club for the development of a First Tee training facility.
  • authorized the sale of land where the Welcome Center once stood on William Hilton Parkway to the neighboring Crazy Crab restaurant to increase its parking.
  • deferred the annual review and compensation discussion concerning town manager Steve Riley.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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