LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Tired of shooting the messenger in Kent County

Once upon a time, a lifetime ago, I handled a multimillion-dollar contract for the Air Force for washing C-5 aircraft. As the manager of the contract, it was my responsibility to ensure that all the obligations of that contract were adhered to.

One such stipulation was that the contractor have a mechanical lift that reached a height of at least 66 feet (the height of the aircraft tail above the ground level).

One day, the contractor reported that the lift didn’t work. I advised him that he’d have only enough time to get it repaired or replaced before the next aircraft was due washing, or risk being financially penalized and/or forfeiting the contract. Suddenly, the high-lift fairy appeared and the problem was solved almost overnight.

Flash forward to today in Kent County. The county, at the direct cost of taxpayers’ money, contracted firms to pick up and dispose of household trash, recyclable trash, and yard waste.

Today, for the umpteenth time, I’ve contacted the poor lady who is tasked with answering the phone about complaints with this service. Dutifully, she apologizes for the inconvenience and assures me “they” are working on the problem.

My particular “designated day” for pickup is Thursday. I am told to have my containers roadside no later than 7 a.m. on Thursday, so, like most of my neighbors, they are set out on Wednesday night. Though I’m told the pickup may take place between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., the truck for household garbage is usually there before 9 a.m. After that, all bets are off.

The recyclable truck can show up as early as 7, but the usual is mid- to late afternoon. In the last few weeks, I’ve had them show up as late as 7:25 p.m. Last week, he showed up on Friday midday. As for the yard waste guy, it’s “pick a number.”

My first scheduled date was on April 7, and when I called on April 8, I was assured he’d be there but I should leave my can curbside because he’d be working on Saturday. It sat there until April 15.

Understanding that my SECOND pickup should have taken place on April 14, that week was shot, but I was assured that the contractor was “back on schedule.” I set the container out for my April 21 pickup, and today, it sits by the curb on April 25. Again, I’m told that he has “vehicle problems.”

Now, it may be a pittance to some, but a single straw never broke the camel’s back. It was the continued acceptance of “one more straw” and the total accumulation that did him in.

My taxes may be bothersome, but I pay them with the expectation of return in services. Before the county took over this service, I paid a private firm to do it, and they were never, ever, without exception, late for pickup. Once during inclement weather, they notified me that they were unable to reach my home and that they would credit my account for missing that pickup. I’m waiting to hear someone tell me that same thing about this contractor. Sadly, I expect my yard waste container will have been picked up long before that day arrives.

So, I’m tired of shooting the messenger who’s only doing her job of answering the phone. Someone somewhere must be responsible for this contract.

If that means it goes all the way up to Levy Court, then, I’d expect [Levy Court President] Brooks Banta to skip one of his photo-ops or grip-and-grin ceremonies to ensure that my tax money isn’t being squandered on a contractor who can’t provide the services agreed upon. If this guy can’t, then, he should be terminated, and someone who can and WILL should be hired to replace them.

George Roof

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