The city of High Springs and GFL Environmental will work through a transition plan at a special meeting in March after the city voted to terminate its contract with the company.
GFL has provided High Springs solid waste management for the past eight years, but city staff say the company has failed to address problems.
Assistant Manager Bruce Gillingham said the issue has tapped out city staff.
“We notified GFL over a year ago,” Gillingham said. “None of the issues from a year ago, even a year and a half ago, have been resolved."
The city voted to terminate the contract at its Feb. 9 meeting, and GFL staff appeared at the city’s Feb. 23 meeting to ask the commission to reconsider.
Skip McCall, government contracts manager for GFL, said the company was surprised to receive the letter of termination. He said the company wasn’t in default with its contract and the city hadn’t issued a notice of default before the termination—in violation of the contract, Skip said.
McCall said GFL wants communication, like knowing the commission had planned a vote for termination. He also pointed to steps GFL has taken to help, moving bulk pickup from every other week to every week.
But city staff and commissioners said GFL continues missing pickups, and Gillingham noted that a whole subdivision, Weston Oaks, was missed again last month. Gillingham also said the city has sent many emails without responses on problems and failures to pick up trash.
“We have staff in place to handle this,” Gillingham said. “I've got staff spending four hours a day on solid waste complaints between three different departments.”
City Attorney Scott Walker recommended the city commission not repeal the termination notice. The contract will end in April 2024.
However, he said the city can direct staff to meet with GFL as requested to work through a transition plan to a new company. Maybe, he said, the problems might be resolved and the termination notice revoked.
He cautioned that both parties want to avoid litigation and handle the dispute amicably. And he said McCall’s words about the city failing to issue a default notice were a “shot across the bow.”
“At the end of the day, it never hurts to sit down and discuss these things because we do need to, at a minimum, talk about what the transition will be if the transition is going to happen,” Walker said.
The commission consented to have staff sit down with GFL, and before the meeting ended, Gillingham said the two parties had set a date.