CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The City of Cape Coral held a special workshop with the sanitation company Waste Pro Wednesday. They talked about what’s next after so many residents say their bulk trash gets left behind for days or weeks in some cases.
Just last week, Fox 4 uncovered more than 1,000 missed pick-up complaints were reported to the city so far this year.
Some city leaders are thinking about fining Waste Pro $250 for every pick-up they miss. To put that into context, Waste Pro could face $156,000 for the missed pick-ups logged during the last week of March.
For the past week, Cape Coral resident Michael Vastarelli has seen three garbage cans full of leaves and fallen tree limbs, and some left over on the side when he opens his front door. He says that’s all thanks to the work Waste ro didn’t do.
“They miss days. They’ll come three days later and pick up the garbage. Then the recycling’s out. Now, the horticulture as you could see is out there for more than a week,” he said.
Vastarelli brings some inside perspective to his argument. He worked in sanitation in New York, and did some independent work in Cape Coral. He says in all his experience, missed pick ups on this scale shouldn't fly.
“I don’t know why they don’t have another shift coming in at night, and the late afternoon to pick up whatever’s left out,” he said
He went to Cape Coral City Hall Wednesday to listen to what Waste Pro had to say.
A representative for the company blamed the missed pick-ups on the pandemic,” siting the nationwide driver shortage.
But, residents said during public comment, the company has left their trash and recycling behind before COVID-19.
Waste pro told City Council they’re working on hiring more drivers with internship programs. They also said they’re trying to improve retention with bonuses.
But, Councilmember Dan Sheppard says it’s time for the company to make changes not plans; or see consequences.
“It’s not our job to tell them how to figure out the problem. It’s our job to penalize them if they don’t do the job,” he said.
Vastarelli says it’s time to cut ties altogether.
“They can get other companies to do this. There’s other companies that’ll come in. I think that the City of Cape Coral should start their own sanitation department. Get the equipment. Get the places, and get rolling,” he said.
Both Councilman Sheppard and Mayor John Gunter are on board with imposing fines. City Manager Rob Hernandez suggested monitoring Waste Pro’s progress for a few more weeks before deciding on those fines.