In five years, Autin said at the city council meeting Tuesday, the waste pickup service has not replaced a single truck. He said the contract between SweeDee and the city clearly states the terms.
Bill Frey, marketing and governmental affairs for SweeDee, and Roddy Matherne, division manager, appeared before the council regarding problems throughout the city.
It is the second time SweeDee has been called to the podium in the last month.
“We’ve been having a lot of problems having drivers and all that,” Matherne said. “We’ve been running double routes with the drivers we have. But we did hire three new drivers, we are training them, and hopefully you’ll see a big improvement come next week.”
He said trucks are being patched to prevent leaks. “I apologize for the service we’ve been giving y’all,” Matherne said.
Autin said immediately after the last council meeting with Sweedee “when you said things would get done, they got worse. Immediately worse.”
He said he was in Houma recently and saw nice, new SweeDee trucks in service.
“I know we’re a small town, I read the contract, and it says we should have a new truck once a year,” Autin said. “We have never had a new truck. The trucks we have are garbage trucks. Take it like you want it, I’m telling you like it is.”
Autin said garbage was spilled all over the street in front of his restaurant 1½ weeks ago. “Somebody’s covering somebody’s yain-yain,” Autin said. “The garbage trucks stink. They picked up someone’s garbage and left broken glass all over the street. These things continually go on and on.
“I understand you’re trying, but trying’s not getting it. I understand you have driver problems, we have employee problems, but this is in breach of the whole contract as far as I’m concerned.”
Autin recommended SweeDee publish ads in the newspaper defining which areas are picked up on what days. He said repeated missed days has many residents confused about when they are supposed to be serviced.
Councilman Joe Garrison said there have been improvements in some areas. “You passed in my neighborhood and my wife asked if y’all had new trucks,” Garrison said. “I said no, they just washed them. It was an improvement.”
He said he still has complaints from residents about damaged containers not being replaced.
Matherne said he has just received a shipment of repair and replacement parts.
“We only have five trucks in the St. Mary area,” he said. “There are two supervisors (at the yard in Franklin.)”
Upkeep and smell at the yard on 10th Street have been addressed, Matherne said.
“You expect good service and you’ll get service,” Matherne said.
Mayor Raymond Harris said the trucks “are old. They leak. They stink.”
Harris said the company has the same trucks they began with. He also has seen newer, nicer trucks in other parishes.
“I kind of feel like we’re being treated like a stepchild,” he said.
Matherne promised to check the contract and to live up to its terms.