Upson County Commissioners

Commissioner James Ellington voiced his ongoing dissatisfaction last week with current garbage and trash service in Upson County, ultimately suggesting it may be time for a change.

Both the county and City of Thomaston currently contract with GFL Environmental, Inc. for the service.

“I understand these are unique times, with COVID and lack of workers, but bills go out when they’re due, they have a ‘pay by’ date, and we expect to be paid,” Ellington told fellow commissioners. I just don’t think it’s fair to the people we’re forcing to take this service, when they’re not getting the service they pay for.

“I’m still getting calls and complaints,” he continued. “What do you tell somebody [who complains]? You tell me who I’ve got to use, tell me when I have to pay, tell me when I have to put [trash] out, then you pick it up when you want to.”

Ellington added that the failure of the company to empty receptacles at scheduled times puts residents in jeopardy of violating local laws. The city and county both have ordinances requiring that trash bins be removed from streets within 24 hours of pickup days.

“We have an ordinance that states you put your trash on the side of the road early in the morning, and by dark, that can’s got to be away from the road or you can be fined,” he said. “The problem is that people put it by the road, and it doesn’t get picked up. If it’s supposed to be picked up Wednesday, sometimes it sits there until Friday.”

Ellington said the longer a receptacle remains at the curb, the likelihood increases that the can will be “knocked over” and garbage will be strewn by animals, adding to an existing litter problem.

GFL representatives have appeared in front of both city and county officials to address ongoing complaints. Recently GFL adjusted routes and pickup times, and trucks were added to the local fleet, according to a company spokesperson.

“I know we’ve talked to the local people here. I would like to talk to their boss,” Ellington said. I feel like [the local manager] is trying to do the best he can. Maybe the people he reports to need to hear it from us, or me, that I’m not satisfied.

“We’ve got to do better, bottom line. Stuff’s sitting by the side of the road, sometimes for weeks,” he continued. “I’m being held accountable for it, so I want to hold the people accountable who are really accountable.”

Ellington was pessimistic about service improving under the current agreement.

“I think we need to have conversations with some higher-ups, and I’ll go ahead and say this: I don’t think they can change it,” he said. “And if they’re not [able to improve], we need to put this out for bid and see if there are other people out there who are interested in doing business with us, who are capable of handling the situation.”

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