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Republic Services has reached out to Town of Fountain Hills officials with an apology for mishandling a customer audit that has subsequently caused confusion and consternation among residents.

Stephen Herring, municipal relationship manager for Republic in Phoenix, wrote an email to Town Manager Grady Miller saying, “I am reaching out to you personally [with] apologies for the execution and lack of communication around the Desktop Audit. A plan was in place for a smooth roll out but that did not happen and I will accept the full blame for that.”

Herring said the audit discovered approximately 500 addresses within Fountain Hills that did not have trash services with Republic, were being serviced without being billed or were using a different hauler.

“The plan was to get with Raymond [Rees, town environmental and facilities supervisor] and [Miller] upon completion of the audit and discuss the best path forward,” Herring wrote in the email. “Typically this would consist of a letter to the residents and talking points. This part did not happen and that is completely my fault. Upon completion of the audit, actual accounts are created in our system which will automatically generate billing. So while I thought we had time to go through this, billing has already gone out.”

Miller has issued a statement outlining the town’s position on the issue.

“[Republic] sent out bills for the purposes of contacting those who had somehow been receiving free service, using a different company, accessing public dumpsters or other residents’ bins without their consent. Republic did not consult the town about this audit or billing process before it occurred,” Miller said.

“Republic has requested that residents call Republic’s customer service division directly with inquiries or questions at 602-237-2078. In the event services were billed in error, the town has been assured that Republic will correct the error.”

The rules

The town has not amended its ordinances related to trash collection and hauling since the Town Council adopted the single hauler program in 2010 and awarded a contract to Republic through standard bidding process. The ordinance does require residents to use Republic Services as their solid waste provider. This applies to residential homes. Commercial entities, as well as apartment and condo complexes, are free to hire their own provider.

The town does not receive any financial benefit for contracting with Republic for solid waste and recycling services. Waste disposal is a service the town is obligated to provide to its residents, whether directly or through a private provider.

In 2018 the Town of Fountain Hills initiated a second bidding process for its solid waste and recycling services as the multi-year contract with Republic Services set to expire. After Republic Services submitted a proposal with the lowest cost of solid waste providers, the town negotiated a multi-year contract with the company.

Republic Services provides recycling per the council-approved contract, along with other services, including a household hazardous waste collection day, an electronics recycling collection event, one free bulk pick up event each year, and green waste disposal.

Residents are allowed to suspend service for up to six months at no cost.

Due to state and county health and sanitary laws, solid waste providers, whether they are cities/towns or private companies, are required to collect solid waste twice weekly. The recycling bin counts as a second pick-up for purposes of the laws.

One regular residential solid waste pick-up, plus recycling, costs less than two regular pick-ups of solid waste. One or the other is required by state and county regulations.

While residents are encouraged to recycle, they are not forced to utilize the recycling bin provided by Republic Services. Due to the mandate for twice a week solid waste pickups, there are no discounts for only utilizing solid waste collection.