Although Inland Service Corp., which took over trash collection services in Upper Arlington nearly four months ago, has indicated its willingness to agree to a "no-fault termination" of its contract, city officials think otherwise.

Although Inland Service Corp., which took over trash collection services in Upper Arlington nearly four months ago, has indicated its willingness to agree to a "no-fault termination" of its contract, city officials think otherwise.

Recent correspondence between the city and Inland show there are still some kinks in the system to be worked out.

In a May 22 letter to city manager Virginia Barney, Inland president Robert Smith outlined several issues that have presented challenges for the company.

"The city ordinance requires its residents to set out materials prior to 7 a.m. on their designated collection dayÉ We firmly believe that not enforcing this 7 a.m. set-out requirement has and will continue to waste Inland's and the city's time and resources," Smith states in the letter.

Another problem Smith cited was that only 3.3 percent of Upper Arlington's 12,000 households chose to pay an additional $150 in addition to the $30 annual service fee for premium, at-the-door pickup instead of standard curbside pickup -- far lower than the city's initial projection of 12 to 15 percent.

"This has resulted in underutilized assets and an unremunerated capital expense incurred by Inland Service," Smith goes on to state in the letter.

Smith also admitted that Inland employees have made mistakes.

"Because there is no consistency in the waste containers being used by our customers, my employees have mistaken trash for (recycling) and vice versa," Smith states in the letter. "In some instances, this has led to improper disposal of wastes or some wastes being left on the curb."

Smith also acknowledged in the letter that city staff has had difficulty contacting Inland management personnel to discuss issues.

"Obviously, we would prefer to work (through) these issues, but if you desire, Inland Service Corporation would be amicable to a no-fault termination of this agreement at a date to be mutually agreed upon, provided that arrangement can be made for the city to take back possession of their old equipment," Smith concludes in the letter.

Assistant city manager Joe Valentino said the city continues to work with Inland to resolve the issues Smith raised in the letter. Upon receiving the letter, Barney sent a written reply and city officials also spoke by phone with Smith and two Inland vice presidents, Valentino said.

"To be honest at that point, we kind of moved on. As Inland has turned a corner this last month, we've never looked back," Valentino said. "The issues now are little issues."

Lingering issues include getting all households to put trash out by 7 a.m. the morning of pickup and complaints by some residents that Inland employees haphazardly throw trashcans in yards after collection, Valentino said.

The city has no plans to terminate or renegotiate Inland's contract, he said. If for some reason Inland did decide to back out of the contract, he added, there would be financial penalties and Inland would be required to find a replacement company to provide trash pickup.

"It's not clean walk-away at all," Valentino said.

While the city and Inland continue to iron out issues, a citizen petition drive is in progress to overturn the city's decision to privatize trash pickup. Petitioners must obtain 1,387 signatures -- 10 percent of the votes cast by Upper Arlington residents in the 2006 gubernatorial election -- to place the issue on the November ballot.

The petition must be submitted to the city of Upper Arlington finance director's office by Aug. 21 -- 75 days before the November election. Petition drive organizer Mike Schadek said he and other volunteers have acquired 2,000 signatures and plan to submit the petition to the city on July 25.

Three calls to Inland's Laguna Vista, Texas, office seeking comment from Smith were not returned.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com