By Jerry LaMartina
Despite its recent service problems, Deffenbaugh Industries Inc. picked up a six-month permit extension to provide trash-disposal services in Leawood.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the Leawood City Council unanimously approved a measure allowing Deffenbaugh to operate in the city through June 30. Home owners associations individually contract with waste haulers for service in Leawood, but haulers must have a valid permit from the city to operate there. Deffenbaugh, which is owned by Waste Management Inc., serves slightly more than 6,000 customers in Leawood, said Paul Howe, a senior district manager for the company.
“I think the staffing has improved,” Howe told the council. “We’re still facing some challenges, as the whole industry is.”
Howe said that Deffenbaugh had provided 217,000 pickups for residential customers in Leawood from Oct. 1 through Dec. 16 for trash, recycling and yard waste. Deffenbaugh had 309 “reported service deficiencies” in that period, which is about one-tenth of 1 percent of the total number of pickups.
“We’re certainly not perfect,” Howe said. “We continue to strive every day, but we’ve certainly made improvements.”
City Administrator Scott Lambers said that when pickup problems surfaced, “we were inundated with calls, not just from this provider but from Town & Country, as well.” The Leawood City Council put WCA/Town & Country on notice at its Sept. 6 meeting while a district manager for the company said its efforts to comply with Department of Transportation regulations had prompted its loss of more than half of its drivers.
“I can tell you that, as far as Waste Management’s concerned, those calls have dropped off dramatically, and so clearly there has been improvement on their end,” Lambers said.
He recommended approving the six-month contract extension and, when the time comes, handling the annual contract renewal administratively and bringing it back to the council.
“I would like to voice my appreciation for your efforts, because when there are issues, we all hear about it, so we thank you for your diligence in getting more people hired …,” Mayor Peggy Dunn told Howe.
Deffenbaugh has had its woes in other parts of Johnson County in the past year. At its Aug. 15, 2016, meeting, the Prairie Village City Council voted to award its next trash-disposal contract to Republic Services, which took over from Deffenbaugh on Jan. 1 in a 10-year contract with the city. Republic now provides trash disposal for the vast majority of Prairie Village homes.
On July 20, 2016, Howe told the Mission City Council that there was “no excuse” for the poor service his company had provided for the city.