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Polk County launches garbage pilot program after trash collection troubles

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Four months after Bryan Cousin contacted 8 On Your Side, he said the trash is no longer piling up in his south Lakeland neighborhood.

“I would say it’s about 98 percent better,” he said. “We still have a few issues with bulk pickup but other than that, everything else has been resolved in our area.”

The trash collection troubles in western Polk County prompted county commissioners to declare a local state of emergency in February. In order to cut down on delays and free up more trucks for trash pick up, the county suspended recycling for the month of March before restarting that service on a bi-weekly basis.

“They went to every other week pick up on recycling,” Cousin said, “but we’re still paying for the contracted weekly pick up.”

Weekly recycling in Polk County resumes on July 1, the same day the county will launch its own trash collection pilot program.

“I think it’s a smart move as long as they can keep up with everything and obviously taxes don’t go up from what we were paying before with the other company,” Cousin said.

County commissioners at their meeting this week approved modifying its contract with private waste hauling company, FCC Environmental Services. They also agreed to pay $206,000 to lease three trucks to remove garbage from 1,364 homes in southwest Polk County.

Sandra Smith lives in that designated area.

“We went almost a month with no pick up of garbage,” Smith said.

She explained why she is counting on the county trucks to provide reliable trash removal.

“We have a lot of hunters around here,” Smith said, “so when they throw their meat and stuff from skinning the dears and fish, oh god everybody can smell it.”

County Manager Bill Beasley said they will use the pilot program to figure out “whether the county could feasibly collect residential waste within a larger area in the future.”

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