SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — Louise Martin says she doesn’t know what she’ll do if she has to go six months without trash service.
“They told me they would no longer be servicing my area. My first thought was ‘OK, who is now going to pick up our garbage?” said Martin.
She’s one of several residents in the City of South Fulton who were told trash collections done by the private contract company GFL Environmental will cease for some customers by the end of this year.
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“People are already in an uproar over what’s happening,” said resident Connie Robinson.
Earlier this year, Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Ashli Lincoln reported on hundreds of complaints against GFL for delayed collection service.
Councilmember Helen Willis says because of this, they’ve entered into an agreement with a new single trash provider, Waste Pro.
However, the company won’t start collecting trash until June of 2023.
Currently, the City of South Fulton is in a free market, where customers choose their own trash providers. This means the terms of a service agreement is between the company and residents, not South Fulton.
“We are moving to a market where we can regulate cost and move to more quality service,” said Willis.
Robinson is one of several customers who wish to stay in a free market.
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“When you think about the jobs and how many jobs are going to be lost because we are cutting these vendors off, the people are saying ‘We don’t want this, but you’re going to force it on us anyway’,” said Robinson.
The city says GFL agreed to continue servicing residents until the June transition date, but they were blindsided to hear GFL telling some residents their service would be discontinued after December.
The City of South Fulton says GFL told them residents accounts that are in good standing will not experience a discontinuation of service after Dec. 31, 2022.
GFL allegedly told customers that only residents with delinquent bills will be dropped after Dec. 31.
The city says there are roughly 2,000 delinquent accounts with GFL.
Martin says GFL isn’t just sending that message to those with delinquent accounts because she was told by a GFL representative that her service would be ending after December.
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“I’ve never been late in 10 years of owning my house. As a matter of fact, I pay ahead of it,” said Martin.
Willis says GFL is the largest trash service provider for the city, servicing more than 50% of the South Fulton population.
“This is the fallout of a free market, and in a free market we cannot regulate prices and we cannot hold vendors accountable,” Willis said.
Once the new provider takes over in June, Willis says the Fulton County Tax Commissioner will handle the billing.
“The city will not be in the business of collecting, that is not our plan. Our plan is to let the Tax Commissioner handle the billing and the collection and sanitation,” Willis said.
After sending questions to GFL, they said they have no plans to exit the market.
“We also recently met with the city to discuss this transition period and we are cooperating with them. With respect to new customers and to reinstate customers whose services were suspended for nonpayment, we offered to provide service upon prepayment for the transition period,” a GFL spokesperson said in a statement.
The city has created a portal to connect residents to different waste providers.
City-issued information regarding sanitation concerns can be found here.
The city has also created a list of available trash providers.
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