A waste collection company that had a very rough patch last year with a wide range of client complaints – Republic Services – came before the Guilford County Board of Commissioners this week and asked the county to grant it a rate increase.  The commissioners took no action at the meeting, but they are considering the company’s request and those in Guilford County who use the service will likely know in 30 to 60 days – after the commissioners have more discussion on the matter – if there will be an increase.

Republic Services has a non-exclusive franchise agreement with Guilford County that allows the company to do business in the county, and currently the price it can charge customers is capped at $16.50 a month for pickup of garbage weekly and recycling every other week.  At the meeting, the company requested that the county raise that cap to $21.50 a month and require that all Republic Services customers use the company’s containers for the sake of efficiency and safety.

The last increase the company had was in 2008, from $16 to $16.50, so company representatives argued that Republic’s price hadn’t even kept up with cost of living increases over the last decade.

At the Board of Commissioners Thursday, March 21 work session in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House, representatives of the company went into great detail as to the factors that are driving up the company’s costs for collection and recycling.  One major consideration cited by company officials is that selling recyclables is much less profitable in recent years due to trends in packaging and other reasons.  Fewer people get physical newspapers, companies have made their containers less bulky, and changes in demand in China and other places for recyclables has also hurt the industry’s bottom line.

The Guilford County commissioners said at the meeting that they would consider the request, but several commissioners pointed out that a lot of customers in the county were still very upset about major service problems the company had last year.  Republic has shown great improvement over the past eight or nine months, but, for several commissioners, it was still too soon after those problems to ask for a rate increase.

Commissioner Justin Conrad represents many people in the county’s Northwest who use the service and he seemed very firm in his resolve to protect their interests.

“It’s still fresh on people’s minds,” Conrad said of the collections problems early last year.

He said he knows that very well.

“I have a large density of your customers in my district,” Conrad said, adding that he really hears it anytime Republic drops the ball.

Conrad said that, if he voted that day, he would cast a no vote, and he said that in order to possibly be able to move to a yes vote he wanted to see any increase tied to performance measures that would assure better service for the company’s customers in Guilford County.