Groves Council Gets One-Year Update On Solid Waste Service

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council met with its solid waste hauler Coastal Waste on Tuesday, Nov. 3 to discuss progress and problems over the past year since the company took over the contract.

Coastal Vice President John Casagrande said his company took over the contract with the town a year ago after the previous contractor left abruptly, trying to catch up on issues that had been left behind while the company adjusted to established routes in the community.

One of the things Casagrande has been working on with town staff is an effective web site that customers can go to if they have a problem or question.

“We started a program to locate and remove illegal dumping… Identifying illegal commercial businesses has been an ongoing thing,” he said, explaining that his company had made a list of solid waste customers that are paying residential rates for commercial service.

Casagrande said one issue he has been receiving calls on is when the company started a six-cubic-yard limit on yard trash pickup in February.

“We started tagging [oversize trash piles] and letters went out from the town stating that the limit was six yards,” he said, adding that the number of customer calls started to go down after the initial spike.

All the trucks are equipped with computers that record where each truck goes and records any incidents on the routes.

“This gives us the ability to track where they are and gives us the ability to know if they’ve been there,” Casagrande said.

A drive cam gives the company the ability to see how fast the truck is going and where they are. “We also have cameras all the way around the truck, and we can also track missed pickups,” he said.

Casagrande added that the town charges a lower commercial franchise fee than surrounding municipalities. He said a correction to the fee might help the town avoid an anticipated residential assessment increase in the future.

Loxahatchee Groves charges 3 percent while Wellington charges 5 percent and Royal Palm Beach charges 6 percent. Assistant Town Manager Francine Ramaglia added that there are an estimated 52 commercial enterprises using residential cans in town, and that some businesses have continued using vendors other than Coastal, which is a violation of the franchise.

Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia thanked Casagrande for mentioning franchise fees because they were something she wanted to address.

He said an issue he would like the town’s direction on was the allowance of community trash piles where three or four property owners use the same trash pile. He said he felt many residents were taking advantage of the community piles to dump illegally, thereby raising the total tonnage that the town pays for in dumping fees.

“That’s my opinion, but I’d like to know what you guys would like to do about it, whether you would like to continue it, but that’s what’s going on,” Casagrande said. “I believe once we get our arms around it, the tonnage will go down even more.”

The community piles were a concept the present contractor inherited from the previous contractor, which had a clamshell truck to pick up the piles. Coastal does not have that type of equipment.