Not Acceptable

Stacked limbs, like the ones shown, won't be picked up by El Campo trash service provider Texas Disposal Systems. The company requires brush to be cut into no more than four-foot lengths, bundled and tied. Limbs should be no more than four-inches in diameter.

A plea for help came from El Campo senior citizens Monday night as they stood before city council saying not everyone can easily deal with brush and trash. A program already exists to help with some concerns, city officials say.

New trash collector Texas Disposal Systems, Paula Siglock and Regina Jank told council, aren’t offering assistance to the elderly.

“We’re asking for the city to give some consideration in getting the trash out (for the elderly),” Siglock said, adding, “I’m 4’10” and can barely get a trash bag into (the polycart). I know there are other elderly residents who need help.”

City leaders picked TDS over long-time collector Waste Connections this summer largely due to brush collection concerns and a lack of accountability in the previous contract.

TDS took over Oct. 1 and has clashed with the public numerous times since on issues ranging from cut, bundle and tie brush requirements to the increased cost.

The new company offers help to elderly and/or disabled households, City Manager Courtney Sladek said Tuesday. “Residents must call and request (the service),” she said, adding directly from the contract, “‘Contractor will provide side-of-house collection at no extra cost to citizens who are handicapped or disabled.’”

To request the service, residents can call City Hall at 979-541-5000 or TDS at (800) 375-8375.

Waste Connections had not been requiring residents to cut, bundle and tie brush.

For Jank and her husband, the company switch has left a pile of improperly prepared brush at their curb since September.

“We’re dealing with health issues and are incapable of cutting (limbs) to 4-foot (in length) or no more than 4 inches (in diameter). We’re at the mercy of what falls.”

Jank brought phone bills to council with her, ready to prove the seven phone calls she made trying to get the brush pile created by Tropical Storm Nicholas winds collected.

So far, all she has received is a warning tag. The brush, TDS has notified her, does not meet collection requirements and may be subject to code enforcement action.

“What do you do with those who can’t cut and bundle?” Jank asked to a quiet city council.

Sladek said Tuesday, “Possible solutions are being discussed. At the end of the day, any additional services requested of TDS will result in additional costs to the city and residents. Considering the recent rate increases, this is what we are trying to avoid.”

The current contract does not address elderly and/or disabled households who may be struggling with brush regulations.

The two addressing council during public comments say they are not the only elderly caught between city service demands and the physical condition they require to get it done. And, they say, they are not the only ones.

Hiring help is only an answer when the person in need can afford the cost, they said, and many seniors are on fixed incomes.

Other items are starting to collect as well, Jank said.

“There’s lots of mattresses and lots of furniture that wasn’t there before, that’s just sitting in the street,” she said.

TDS does have a heavy trash collection policy, but generally only offers the service to residents monthly.

Council leaders were unable to take any actions or discuss the matter because it arose during public comments. The city has the option to put the issue on a future agenda for debate.

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