Montgomery County officials trash garbage-collection contractor

WASHINGTON — Nearly a month after Montgomery County, Maryland, turned to other contractors to handle waste pickup in Bethesda and Silver Spring, Council President Roger Berliner called the company blamed for uncollected waste and recycling “a bad contractor.”

Berliner, whose district includes areas affected by the service shortfalls, called out Potomac Disposal during a briefing with reporters this week.

In 2013, Potomac workers went on strike, citing low pay and issues with getting paid on a timely basis.

“We had enough indications of their weakness as a contractor to begin looking for alternatives, in my judgement, some time ago,” Berliner told reporters.

The acting chief of the county Environmental Protection Department’s division of solid waste services, Bill Broglie, acknowledged some residents’ frustration at Potomac, which had left their yard trim and recycling sitting curbside for days.

“I know this has really been a problem for the residents,” Broglie said. “I really regret the inconvenience that this has caused for the residents who were impacted by it.”

After months of spotty recycling and yard trim collections, the county adjusted how waste pickups were done last month. Potomac, cited for its failure to keep up with its collection schedule in recent months, now only handles recycling.

The county has contracted two other firms — Goode Companies and Ecology Services — to provide collection services.

The contract with Potomac runs until April 2018, Broglie said. The county is considering bids for a new contract, but Broglie said he couldn’t say whether Potomac had submitted a bid until after a decision is made — most likely sometime in July.

Since changing recycling, trash and yard trim collection operations (and relieving Potomac Disposal of all but recycling collections), complaints from the public “have dropped dramatically,” Broglie said.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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