Jacksonville yard waste complaints have skyrocketed, and city officials are pointing their fingers at labor shortages.
The city’s Department of Public Works has received 19,533 complaints related to yard waste over the past six months, said Public Works Director John Pappus. About 17,500 of them have come from areas where the city contracts out waste collection to private companies.
Almost 10,000 of the complaints have come from Southeast Jacksonville, where Waste Pro USA, a city contractor handles collection. The city’s Northside, which is contracted by Republic Services, has received over 5,000 complaints. Western Jacksonville, which is contracted by Waste Management, has received over 2,000.
The complaint spike stems from collection routes being missed, according to Pappus.
"Quite frankly, our haulers are having a very hard time filling their crews and keeping up with the services,” Pappus said during an update about the situation in a city council committee meeting Monday morning.
The city is fining the contractors for not fulfilling their contract for each route missed, using the money collected to have city employees cover missed routes.
District 3 Councilman Aaron Bowman said he has forwarded Pappus “about a thousand” emails from residents complaining about waste not being collected.
“The ones that are frustrating to me are the ones that I get that say ‘they just missed us for the third week in a row.’” Bowman said.
According to Pappus, Waste Pro USA is exploring opening a temporary yard waste debris site where residents could drop off waste in the Southeast, but no specific details were provided.