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Polk County neighbors still concerned about trash pickup delays

The county declared a local state of emergency, stating it's a public health hazard.

LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County is talking more trash.

The county manager, waste management, and haulers met Thursday for a private conversation, according to a representative.

Neighbors have been complaining for months about garbage piling up and not being picked up.

The county even declared a local state of emergency Tuesday stating missed collection of trash endangers "the public health, safety and welfare of Polk residents."

The declaration would allow the county manager to take immediate action over the concerns. Neighbors said they've had to wait days, sometimes nearly two weeks, for haulers to stop by. 

"It’s kind of hectic, it’s kind of stressful but I guess what can one do but complain," Rolando Gonzalez said. 

Neighbors said the smell and the endless calls they have to make has been frustrating. 

The county said it received 1,710 complaints in December, which fell to 644 in January — still a high number that FCC manager Jim Suter admitted "is absolutely not the number we're looking for." 

FCC Environmental Services has listed staffing shortages from COVID-19, more population growth in the area and lagging technology are trashing their operations. The company was given an ultimatum in January to clean up its garbage collection services or risk losing its contract.

"I’m hopeful they’ll come up with a solution," Kenneth Hudson said. 

The county and FCC have not responded to requests for comment over Thursday's meeting. 

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