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January 23, 2001|Staff Writer

The local trash company was taken to the dump Wednesday night by the El Centro City Council, which is making tentative moves to replace the company.

Valley Environmental Service was criticized widely at the council meeting for allegedly providing poor service, including failure to pick up city trash on time.

The City Council was provided with a status report by city Public Works Director Steve Hogan on how the trash company is doing.

"We are not unique in the kinds of complaints that we're receiving," Hogan told the council, referring to complaints from other Valley cities about VES.


The report says that for the 10 years from 1989 to 1999, the services provided by a former company, El Centro Sanitation Co., resulted in a "high level of satisfaction," leading the city to renew the contract for an additional 10 years with an option for another 10 years.

A nationwide sale of trash companies that included El Centro Sanitation led the city to put the new company, Allied Waste Management, on a trial period to determine if the new nationwide company can perform to the same standard. Allied is the parent company of Valley Environmental.

Though discussions have been ongoing between the city and Valley Environmental, the report states a recurring theme among customers is the lack of information or wrong information provided to the community. Complaints include lack of accessibility to customers by phone, confusion about the proper placement of trash containers and confusion about holiday pickup schedules.

Other complaints include the frequent failure of the company to pick up trash on the proper day and failing to do so for days afterward.

All council members expressed concerns about the service.

Councilman Jack Terrazas said people are complaining that the local landfill is being closed too often when the site reaches its daily limit, leaving people with nowhere to take their trash, a situation that did not occur previously.

Hogan said the company has an application before the county to increase the tonnage it can take at the landfill, but one reason for the problem is Valley Environmental is seeking commercial accounts, resulting in increased tonnage.

Councilman Larry Grogan then broached the possibility of sending the company a so-called "do better letter" laying out the needs of the city. He added that the service has been poor for the last six months.

Terrazas broached the idea of finding a new company to take the city's refuse, and Hogan said the process could take up to a year.

Mayor Cheryl Walker complained that the company's outreach program — designed to educate the public about recycling and so forth — has been "nonexistent."

"We're not happy, and if we're not happy that's not a good thing for this company," she said.

At that point Hogan said the company was invited to attend Wednesday's meeting to hear the status report but no one showed up.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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