By Crystal McGough
ARGO – The Argo City Council unanimously approved a resolution awarding EcoSouth Services with the city’s waste disposal contract for the next three years at its regular meeting on Aug. 9, 2021.
Bids were submitted by Waste Management and EcoSouth Services. Waste Management was the lowest bidder, with a bid of $15.97/unit/month for weekly garbage pickup, plus $2.35 for once-a-month limb pickup if prior arrangements are made, for a total cost of $18.32/resident/month.
EcoSouth’s bid was $19.95, plus a franchise fee that brought the total to $20.95/resident/month, for both weekly garbage services and weekly limb pickup with no prior arrangements necessary.
Several Argo residents spoke on behalf of the waste service bids, some in favor of Waste Management and some against. Complaints about Waste Management’s services included trash not being collected regularly, collection dates changing without notice and long wait times when trying to contact customer service.
“I’m going to be honest with you: quite frankly, I’m embarrassed,” Mike Mitchell from Waste Management said. “We have failed you the past six or eight weeks. … We’ve only been here about nine months, but we have failed in the last couple of months. …We’re kind of easing out of a pandemic … we’ve had a labor shortage and we’ve had a driver shortage, and it’s affected us pretty bad. However, we are doing everything we can.”
Mayor Betty Bradley said that the city has been receiving around 25-30 calls per week from people complaining about their garbage services, including one person whose garbage had not been picked up for eight weeks.
“Since I’ve been on the council, I have never had so many phone calls, emails and text messages of citizens saying why don’t we do our job and do something about you people not doing your job,” Councilor Ann Brown said. “… I’ve got people calling me saying they would pay more for better service.”
EcoSouth Services General Manager Brandon Kemp said that service with his company, which is locally-based, would be different.
“We’re offering everybody that lives in the city a brand-spanking-new can,” he said. “That’s one thing … second thing is it’s different service. It’s not an automated truck; it’s a rear-load truck. It has a driver and a helper, and they will work together at each and every delivery to make sure that everything’s picked up. For lack of a better word, there’s more manpower. … You’re currently with a major, large provider and you’re staying on the phone for 45 minutes. God forbid you can’t ever get in touch with us, just drive over to Tarrant. We’re right there. Yes, we’re a smaller company, but you’re also a smaller city, so we could partner.”
Kemp said that the city of Leeds recently transitioned to EcoSouth Services for its garbage services, as well.
“Their exact word is ‘We’ve been ecstatic with what you’ve done thus far,’” he said. “We want to serve you. You’re not just one customer in a vast array of millions of customers. You would be an extremely valuable and important customer to our success, so we want your residents satisfied.”
The council first passed Resolution 2021-08-09, rejecting Waste Management’s bid as a non-responsible bidder. Then, the council approved Resolution 2021-08-09A, accepting the bid from EcoSouth Services.
EcoSouth Services will begin pickup on Sept. 1.
Bob Carter, organizer for the Argo Business Club, announced that the club will be hosting a city-wide picnic on Sept. 11, 2021, at Argo Park. The picnic will begin at 10 a.m. and last until 3 p.m. The Argo Business Club will be providing 200 free hotdogs, bags of chips and bottled waters. Food trucks will also be present.
“Our goal is to try to make Argo a more friendly community,” Carter said. “We want to increase the traffic to the community for our businesses and we want to make people enjoy company. The park is still relatively new – a lot of people still don’t even realize where it’s at – but it’s right here at City Hall, up on the hill behind City Hall.”
The next meeting of the Argo City Council will be Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, at the Argo Municipal Complex. The regular meeting will begin at 6 p.m. following a 5 p.m. work session.