Three companies have their licenses renewed for garbage pickup
By Jim Newell
The Orion Township Board of Trustees voted 6-0 during its meeting on Monday to renew waste hauling licenses for Advanced Disposal, Waste Management and Green For Life Environmental to collect solid waste in the township.
Noticeably absent from the list: Odd Job Disposal, Inc.
The board also voted 6-0 not to renew the Oxford-based garbage hauler’s license to operate in the township. Clerk Penny Shults was absent from the meeting.
The last day that Odd Job can collect trash, recycling or compost in Orion Township is March 31. After that, residents who use Odd Job’s service will have to find another waste hauler.
Under township Ordinance 73, Solid Waste & Recyclable Materials Collection Regulation, the board has the authority to revoke, or decide against renewing, a waste hauler’s license if that company’s operations are deemed a health, safety and welfare issue for residents.
Trustee Mike Flood made the motion to deny Odd Job’s license renewal, supported by Trustee Brian Birney.
“I move to deny Odd Job’s license renewal application for the reason that based upon the evidence presented, the admissions of Odd Job’s representatives, and the failure to timely respond to this board’s requests for information, in the judgment of this board there is just cause to deny the application and convincing evidence that the applicants actions represent a danger to the public’s health, safety and welfare,” Flood said, adding that Odd Job has also been observed mixing yard waste with trash, a violation of state law, and has failed to pick up garbage on a timely basis and failed to meet the schedules of the township.
The decision to deny Odd Job’s license comes as little surprise, considering the company has been embattled with the township since at least December and has provided few answers to the township’s inquiries about late or missed trash, recycling and compost pickups, refunds to customers who cancel their service and responding to township communications.
“Do you want to do business in Orion Township?” township Supervisor Chris Barnett asked Odd Job co-owner Aaron Walter. “Do you think we’re trying to help you or hurt you?”
“I think you’re trying to help, but the timeline you gave us isn’t feasible,” Walter said.
Barnett said the township has received hundreds of communications – phone calls, emails and letters – from residents complaining about their lack of service from Odd Job. Many residents have said that it has been weeks, or even months, since Odd Job has picked up their recycling and compost, respectively.
Based on the amount of time township staff has spent in dealing with complaints and trying to contact Odd Job, Barnett estimated it has cost the township “at least $20,000.”
One problem – to which Walter admitted – is that the company got too big too fast. The company had been known for offering lower rates than competitors and providing exemplary service when it began operating in the township.
According to license renewals documents submitted to the township, Odd Job has 5,272 customers in Orion Township and requested licensing two trucks.
Under Ordinance 73, a waste hauler has to provide the insurance certificate for vehicles it wishes to register to pick up trash in the township.
Walter paid $100 to renew the two trucks to work in the township, but told the board that if Odd Job’s permit to work in the township was renewed, he would then pay to have all 14 of his trucks renewed – at a higher rate.
By comparison, Advanced Disposal renewed 35 trucks total (out of both its Pontiac and Clarkston branches), paying $2,500, and estimating it has approximately 750 customers in Orion Township.
Waste Management (Pontiac) applied for 53 licenses at a cost of $3,550 and estimates 2,400 customers.
Green For Life sought licenses for 50 vehicles. Vehicle renewals are $50 and registering new vehicles is $100. The total cost and approximate number of customers GFL serves was not available in board packet information published before the meeting on Monday.
Dan Kelly, the township board’s attorney, said Odd Job could reapply “as quick as next month” to begin picking up trash in the township. However, they would be considered “a new business, not a renewal” under Ordinance 73 and would have to apply as such.
“It’s a different process,” Kelly said.
Several residents did speak in support of Odd Job during public comments, urging the board to give the company a chance.
Alissa Walter said her husband, Aaron, has missed out on family functions and is “doing his best.”
“We’re part of this community. We’ve raised our kids here. He’s missed so much. You guys think he’s not doing anything? He’s missed birthdays, graduations, school functions, our anniversary. He’s late to Christmas Eve every year so he can service his customers and try and do the right thing,” Alissa said. “He’s out there. He’s breaking his back picking up trash. Our family’s income and livelihood is on the line here.
“You’ve given him three months when it’s taken us 12 years to get where we were. How’s three months enough time?” Alissa said.
Resident Robert Miller supported Odd Job. “Just so it’s not all doom and gloom here, I understand that you have a fuller picture than I do, but if you look at it, and I know it looks like a lot of complaints, it’s a pretty low percentage, I think – 500 (complaints) out of 6,000 (customers). Just know that not everyone of Odd Job’s customers is complaining,” he said.
“All we’re looking for is communication and we’ve received none. That’s what this decision is based on,” Barnett said. “No one’s disputing the fact that Aaron’s working really hard.”
The board previously held a license revocation hearing on Jan. 7 but ultimately voted 7-0 to give Odd Job one more chance to turn its business around. The board then gave the company a Feb. 25 deadline to come up with a plan to address the lack of service, process refunds and develop a better communication plan with customers in order to keep its license to operate in the township.
Odd Job representatives, however, did not attend a hearing update on March 4 and sent a friend to read a letter into the township record.
For months, residents have complained that when they try to contact Odd Job, no one answers phone calls or emails or gets back to them.
Barnett has also pointed out that Clerk Penny Shults sent letters by certified mail, dated Dec. 14 and Dec. 20, informing Odd Job that the township could refuse to grant a garbage hauler’s application “for any just cause, or when in its judgment, the public health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the Township so require.”
The Dec. 20 letter informed Odd Job that the township had scheduled the hearing to consider revoking the company’s license for several ordinance violations:
• Late trash pick-up or missed pick-ups
• Recyclable trash not picked up per schedule
• Mixing recyclables with regular trash
• Yard waste not picked up, per schedule
• Mixing yard waste and regular waste trash.
Barnett also asked for some guarantee for residents who had prepaid for their service that they would be refunded if they canceled their service with Odd Job and wants a written policy given to the township to put on record.
When asked about refunds to customers on Monday, Walter said Odd Job had a folder a couple of inches thick that the company had not processed and estimated “500 or so” customers had requested refunds.