A local business owner claims she is actively being pushed out of business by waste-management company Republic Services.
Elected officials aren’t responding to her pleas for help, she said.
“I will fight tooth and nail. We won’t go down without a fight,” said Danielle Basson, chief operating officer of Simple Environmental Services Group, a family-owned waste and recycling management company that’s been in business since 2008 and employs about 50 people.
Basson filed a formal complaint Nov. 15 with the cities of Henderson, North Las Vegas, and Las Vegas, as well as with Clark County, alleging that Republic Services unnecessarily and “purposely” interrupted service to 80 percent of Simple ESG accounts, about 300 properties. Basson claimed that “interference” by Republic Services cost the company an estimated $405,153.96 in annual contracted net revenue over the course of the last 18 to 24 months.
“That number is actually now over $424k. Direct and intentional interference. They need to be stopped,” Basson said.
Tim Oudman, market vice president with Republic Services of Southern Nevada, said in a statement that “claims that we are pushing any company out of business are patently false.”
Republic has worked with Simple ESG for the last four months trying to find common ground, he said.
“Despite our efforts, Simple ESG still owes Republic Services a substantial amount of money for waste and recycling collection services. Simple ESG apparently now thinks that it can continue to delay payments by taking the issue to the cities and county when, in fact, this issue would be resolved if they would simply pay the amount due.”
While most municipalities acknowledged receipt of the Nov. 15 complaint, nothing has been done, Basson said. In emails obtained by the Review-Journal, Republic Services and Simple ESG still disagree on how much is due and how to move forward.
“If we get this mess figured out, we’ll be OK. No business could survive this. And they should not be made to, especially when the vendor was put in place … by the local government and we are forced to use them,” Basson said.
Republic Services has held an exclusive franchise agreement with Las Vegas since 1985; with Clark County since 1993, under prior ownership; with North Las Vegas since 1978; and with Henderson since 1973, under prior ownership. Republic Services is the only waste-disposal company allowed to collect and haul local municipal solid waste.
Simple ESG operates within the system managing clients’ waste needs, which always includes trash pick up. Basson has to use Republic to collect her clients’ trash, but she is able to use other vendors to collect and haul her clients’ recycling and provide other services, like graffiti removal.
Pleading again for help, Basson filed another complaint Monday and spoke with Las Vegas City Council members Bob Beers, Bob Coffin and Stavros Anthony.
“I feel like I’m turning into a major pain in the ass, but what else can I do?” Basson said. “They are forcing us to Erin Brockovich all over the place.”
Basson said Henderson has been the most responsive so far.
Edward McGuire with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department requested a meeting with Republic Services and Simple ESG for the first week of January.
“I am optimistic we can work through some of these issues and get to a better understanding and create a plan to move forward,” McGuire wrote Tuesday in an email to Basson.
Anthony told the Review-Journal that he spoke with Basson, listened and took notes but said the complaint is in the city attorney’s hands.
“I’m not going to get involved in that at this point,” Anthony said. “Anybody that wants to meet with me, I meet with them and let them give their opinion or give me some information but I don’t act on it until it’s appropriate. And, at this point it’s a complaint that our city attorney has to go through and at this point I’ll just stay out of it until I have to make a decision.”
Coffin did not return a request for comment, and Beers said he only spoke with Basson about a separate issue.
Commenting on her complaint in general, Beers said, “Republic has a franchise with the the city of Las Vegas to make sure that the garbage gets out of everyone’s neighborhoods. They’re special. That Danielle is able to find a way within Republic … to get around and make a little money, God bless her. But I don’t want to risk reliable, functional garbage — and by the way, almost the most inexpensive garbage service in America — garbage service, in order to improve her competitive position with this quasi-governmental utility.”
Basson said she understands if there is not much City Council members can do regarding the specifics in her complaint, but “they are the ones that are right now considering giving Republic another 15-year contract extension. It’s not up for another five years.”
Contact Nicole Raz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.