Hernando County's new automated garbage service? It stinks, residents say.

Republic Services was 80 hours behind schedule after the first day, administrator said.
The Hernando County Government Center in downtown Brooksville. [JUSTIN TROMBLY | Times]
The Hernando County Government Center in downtown Brooksville. [JUSTIN TROMBLY | Times]
Published February 12

BROOKSVILLE — How would many customers describe their first week of Hernando County's new-and-improved, automated garbage service?

It stinks.

Whole neighborhoods were missed on their pick up days. Trash has piled up, forcing some to set out additional bags that the automated trucks aren't designed to address. Yard waste and recycling was missed, too. And for customers, who are paying a higher price for the new service, the start up has been unacceptable.

Many have taken to social media to air their concerns, while others are burning up the phone lines of Republic Services, county officials and county commissioners.

On Tuesday, commissioners expressed their dismay. Republic Services had more than a year to prepare for its new service, but many things still didn't go as planned.

After its first day, Republic was 80 hours behind schedule. By Monday, the company had reduced that to 14 hours, said acting county administrator Jeff Rogers.

"It's improving,'' he told commissioners, "but it has to be zero.''

Previous coverage: What's Santa bringing Hernando County residents? Big blue trash cans

Lucille Marano, who lives in the mandatory trash pick-up area of Spring Hill, said she had trouble with Republic before the switch, and the company has yet to pick up the garbage in her new big, blue trash can.

"It's still not getting picked up,'' she told commissioners. "If I've made one phone call, I've made 50.''

Cans were also not emptied in Hernando Beach last week, resident Diane Greenwell said. "I hate that his commission is having to spend so much time on garbage.''

Blue cans line the streets every day, "because no one knows when they're going to pick up,'' Greenwell said.

Commissioners said they have been on the phone every day with Republic Services. They vowed that service will improve or they will hold the company accountable. Last year, they levied fines against Republic because of missed pick-ups.

"It's been atrocious,'' said Commissioner John Allocco. If it isn't fixed, he said, "this board needs to do something about it.''

Rogers said he would accept no excuses for Republic Services' failures and that "the level of service is unsatisfactory.'' He expects to bring an updated report to the board's Feb. 26 meeting.

Commission Chairman Jeff Holcomb urged residents to report missed pick-ups on the county's web site, rather than venting on social media.

"If you get missed,'' he said, "you have got to let us know.''

Contact Barbara Behrendt at bbehrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.