By Greg Bird
Starting Wednesday McCreary County is seeing a familiar face when it’s time to take out the garbage.
Poff Carting, the company that has provided garbage collection service locally for the past two years, has been bought out by Waste Management Inc. – meaning Scott Solid Waste will once again take over operations in the county. Scott Solid Waste is a division of Waste Management, operating out of Oneida, Tennessee.
Todd Hopper, owner of Poff Carting, confirmed the sale last week, stating: “the time was right” for him to sell off the company and move in a different direction.
“It was a good opportunity for us,” Hopper said via phone last week.
McCreary County residential customers should see no immediate effects from the transition as SSW will fully assume Poff Carting’s contract with the county and perform the same services as before.
They will also retain the Poff Carting name for the time being, and bills will look the same as before.
Scott Solid Waste was already sub-contracting with Poff Carting to provide commercial pick-up.
“There will be no changes in rates or services,” Hopper said. “Waste Management will take over and fulfill the terms of the contract as it stands.”
Hopper added all Poff employees will stay on in their regular duties, and actually may be better off as Waste Management has slightly better fringe benefits for staff.
Poff Carting was awarded the bid for local garbage collection in December 2017 after a bidding process. Poff’s rates were slightly better than Scott Solid Waste – the only other bidder at the time.
But the contract proved to be troublesome and controversial for the County.
Terms included mandatory participation, something specified in state law, but not enforced locally for over 30 years. Hopper said at the time of the contract signing their lower rate relied on a large portion of the county subscribing for garbage service.
But for the past two years the County has not taken action to enforce the mandatory language, keeping participation rates below 50-percent. That lack of action prompted serious discussion between Poff Carting and County officials, with the garbage service provider threatening legal action against the County for not fulfilling the terms of the contract.
Hopper added the recent issues with the lack of participation in garbage service locally had no bearing in Poff’s decision to sell, but he did note that he was not pleased when he learned of the recent hiring of an Enforcement Officer by the Fiscal Court.
The Enforcement Officer was stipulated in the contract, but the duties of the hire were described as going after illegal dump sites and not non-compliant residents.
Hopper said the issue was something that he and the County would have “butted heads over very soon.”
Scott Solid Waste had a long history of providing garbage collection in McCreary County prior to losing the bid two years ago. In 2011, the company won the bid over two other bidders: Poff Carting and Cardinal Sanitation. The bid process was challenged in court by Poff Carting. Poff claimed the Fiscal Court acted inappropriately when they rejected all initial bids then submitted new pricing requirements based off of their bid. That case was ultimately dismissed.
In 2016, when the last contract was due to expire, the Fiscal Court negotiated a one-year extension with SSW, but the company refused to staff the transfer station in Stearns, citing expense.
Full details on the acquisition were unavailable as of press time, but Waste Management announced in a recent first quarter earnings report that they have completed several acquisitions over the first three months of the year, including a $4.9 billion takeover of Advanced Disposal – a Florida-based disposal and recycling company.
The Voice was unable to reach Carl Towne, District Manager for Scott Solid Waste, for additional information as he is away at a conference this week.
Poff Carting provided service in Laurel, Whitley, Knox, Bell, Clay, Jackson, Madison and McCreary Counties prior to the acquisition.