City steps in on recycling after private hauler falters

The city of Charlotte has taken over five recycling routes after private contractor Inland Waste Solutions has faltered on the job after high employee turnover.

An executive for Austin-based Inland Waste Solutions said the company has lost employees after former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s arrest on federal corruption charges. He said rumors began spreading among its workers that Cannon’s arrest would make it difficult for Inland to keep its contract, which expires in June 2015.

“There was a lot of talk about renewal of the contract,” said Inland executive David Vance, who works in Augusta, Ga. “There were rumors spread by city employees and possibly competitors. It created a lot of turnover. It takes a couple of weeks to get back on our feet.”

Vance said he has never had a relationship with Cannon and that the company has never done anything wrong in winning the citywide Charlotte contract as low bidder in 2010.

It collected recycling from west Charlotte residents from 2003 to 2010.

Erica Robinson, a spokeswoman for the city’s solid waste services division, said she hadn’t heard any rumors about Inland employees leaving because of Cannon’s arrest.

“We noticed a spike in April in complaints from residents,” she said. “We track that information.”

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee said Inland’s turnover problems started before Cannon’s arrest.

“There is nothing about their performance or our response to it that is in any way connected with the former mayor,” Carlee said.

In February, during a budget meeting, some council members complained about Inland’s performance.

Robinson said Inland is usually paid $335,000 a month. The company is being docked $85,000 because the city has had to step in.

Matthew Johnson, who works in the local Inland office, said the company’s staffing is recovering.

“During the month of April, Inland lost nearly 30 percent of its workforce – many being on the same day of its heaviest week,” he said. “Inland has since recovered and is currently working the adjustments of having an almost entirely new workforce.”

He said Inland’s contract was supposed to be renewed in March, but that was delayed, possibly by Cannon’s arrest. He said rumors also contributed to workers leaving.

Robinson said Inland had 524 misses out of more than 466,848 collections in May.