Council members grill Rizzo rep on contract

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 20, 2014

EASTPOINTE — Members of the Eastpointe City Council had questions for a representative of Rizzo Services over potentially expanding the “transition period” in the city’s five-year waste management contract Aug. 12, but the council put off any votes on tweaking it until September.

Rizzo representative Don Barretta was on hand to field questions, and Councilwoman Wendy Richardson immediately asked Barretta about extending that transition period — during which residents were to move from using trash bags to Rizzo’s trash carts — another six months to a year. The contractual transition period ended July 1.

Richardson argued that since Rizzo Services has taken a long time to make smaller, 65-gallon carts available, the company should extend the transition period. Residents received 96-gallon carts last year, though Barretta said they felt the transition period was completed, as the smaller carts recently had arrived.

“They’re all at the (Department of Public Works); you just have to call on them,” Barretta said. “Other communities don’t have a (transition) year to get used to new carts, like Shelby Township or Lincoln Park. Those people just had to just get used to using them.”

For seniors who have trouble with the carts, Barretta said the company does have a door-side pickup service, where seniors and people with disabilities can sign up to have someone take the trash from the sides of their houses to the curb. Currently, about 20 people in Eastpointe have signed up for that program.

The idea behind using the carts instead of trash bags is that the process can be mechanized to run more efficiently and quickly, Barretta said, as the truck can then simply pick up the cart and dump it in through the top. A bag requires someone to get out of the truck and toss it in, or in some cases, bring in a different truck entirely.

Richardson said the door-side service has not been well-publicized and asked if the city could just approve anyone who wanted the service. Councilman Bill Sweeney did not agree with that idea, saying that service should only be for people who need it.

Richardson also asked why not everyone in the city received a new recycling cart and complained about the rollout for those carts.

“We have four years of this contract left and I’ve been disappointed in the level of service we’ve received,” she said. “The rolling out of the recycle bins was a disaster — not everyone received one — and I know some people who have given up. If I had to request it five times, I can see why I wouldn’t want to keep doing it.”

Barretta admitted they messed up on the rollout of the recycling carts, as the company initially ordered 5,100 of them and had many more requests than that number. Rizzo Services then had to wait for additional carts to arrive, and Barretta said those are now available to anyone who asks for one.

As of Aug. 12, he said 9,003 households have the recycling carts. In comparison, 13,012 Eastpointe households have the garbage carts. Sweeney said he thinks everyone who wants a recycling cart has one by now.

“In my opinion, it was a stumbling block at first, a frustrating thing at first,” Sweeney said. “Something being new is difficult enough as it is, and when something new doesn’t go smoothly, it’s amplified, but I believe that the people who have wanted carts (received them). I haven’t heard of someone not getting a cart when they requested one recently.”

He added that the information he has suggests only 4 percent of all residents are still using the bags, and he believes at least some of those qualify for the door-side pickup.

Barretta said the bid specifications used for the contract never said anything about giving everyone a recycling cart, though Councilman Phil Guastella said if that were the case, it was stated very confusingly, as several council members thought otherwise.

Barretta agreed to bring the council’s concerns back to management at Rizzo Services and to have a response to them by the Sept. 2 meeting.