By Robert Annis
City officials may take punitive action against Republic Waste Services after the trash hauler took a snow day late last month.
Mayor Jim Brainard was steaming after Republic stopped garbage collection the day after Christmas, citing inclement weather conditions. In an e-mail to the city council, Brainard chastised Republic for stopping trash collection Dec. 26 because of six inches of fresh snow. Republic allegedly didn’t notify city officials before calling back its employees, violating its contract requiring written notification.
“… Do they think we are France or Greece?” Brainard wrote. “They have a contract with us and they, in my opinion, breached it by not performing yesterday.”
Carmel spokeswoman Nancy Heck said most city streets were cleared of snow by 7:20 a.m., before Republic workers were recalled. Although snow continued to fall, city officials felt the size and weight of the trucks, often used as snowplows in some municipalities, were more than adequate for workers to safely do their job.
Republic workers were back picking up trash the next day.
Attempts to reach a Republic spokesperson were unsuccessful, but city officials were allegedly told by Republic that they suspended service based on conversations with the Indiana Department of Public Works. Brainard was quick to respond that Republic’s contract was with Carmel, which has higher standards and snow removal times than its neighbor to the south.
Had Republic not returned to work the following day, city officials considered filing an emergency injunction to force Republic back to work and using city public-safety workers to pick up garbage in the meantime.
According to Carmel spokeswoman Melanie Lentz, Carmel is seeking to further clarify the inclement weather language in the contract. It’s possible Carmel will also take some punitive action against Republic for recalling its workers Dec. 26.
“The City has not determined what action to take against Republic at this time,” Lentz said. “It is our goal to provide citizens with the best services possible and will do what’s necessary to make sure that continues to happen. Therefore, the City intends to pursue any damages it has suffered from this incident.”
Republic entered into the contract with Carmel last year, effectively halving most Carmel residents’ trash bills. About 10 percent of residents opted out of the contract in favor of private contracts with other providers.
Residents questioned on Twitter seemed unconcerned about the trash pick-up delay and were generally pleased with the service they received from Republic.