$10-million expense for new Sarasota County garbage carts wins unanimous commission approval

Purchase necessary because of planned switch to automated collection service in late March 2025

This is one model of the 95-gallon garbage carts made by Rehrig Pacific Co. Image from the company website

On April 23, the Sarasota County commissioners unanimously approved the spending of $10 million for new garbage carts that can be used with automated collection equipment beginning formally on March 31, 2025.

In making the motion for the expense, Commissioner Ron Cutsinger said, “It’s great to see this moving forward …” He commended the county’s Solid Waste Department staff for its work “to set this money aside” for the initiative.

Commissioner Mark Smith, who seconded the motion, declined comment; none of the other board members offered remarks.
The item was listed on the agenda for their consideration as a Presentation Upon Request, meaning that county staff would not provide any comments on the plans unless the board members wanted to hear details or had questions.

On March 5, the commissioners approved the recommendation of Solid Waste Department Director Brian Usher to split the county into two districts, which will be served by separate companies whose franchise contracts the board members also approved that day.

Commissioner Neil Rainford was the only board member to vote against the South County district contract, which went to FCC Environmental Services. Rainford had argued for a continued contractual arrangement with Waste Management, which has an office in Venice.

However, Usher stressed that even with Waste Management, new equipment would be necessary, given staff’s decision to switch to an automated process for garbage collection starting in the spring of 2025.

The procurement document related to the purchase said the carts “will be stamped with the County logo and each cart will be installed with RFID [Radio Frequency Identification] tags to track containers, services, and route management.”

Customers will be able to select their preferred cart size, as noted in a county staff memo included in the agenda packet for the commission’s regular meeting on April 23: 35 gallons, 65 gallons or 95 gallons. The selection process is expected to be offered near the end of this year, the memo pointed out.

The delivery of the new carts will begin in late January or early February 2025, the memo said.

The carts will come from Rehrig Pacific Co., which has an office in Orlando. The total cost will be about $8,279,200.15, the staff memo added. The $10-million total includes other one-time expenses, the memo continued, such as providing for the cart size selection process, “mailers, website set-up and support.”

Usher pointed out to the commissioners during their March 5 meeting that extensive outreach to customers is planned, to ensure that all of them are aware of the coming changes to the solid waste collection service.

This graphic is one example of materials that will be used for the public outreach campaign to help county residents transition to the new service starting in late March 2025. Image courtesy Sarasota County

On its website, Rehrig Pacific explains that its EnviroGuard roll-out carts, for one example of its products, “are easy for residents to roll to the curb, robust and compatible with automated lift arms, and are constructed from high-quality, durable plastic …”

The staff memo for the April 23 commission meeting also explained that the purchase agreement with Rehrig Pacific is “piggybacking” on a Miami-Dade County contract, which made it possible for the county to realize “the benefit of competitively solicited procurement on a larger scale than the county would typically solicit for.”

An article on the website of the nonprofit Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) points out, “In a piggybacking arrangement, a public agency or group of public agencies (cooperative) conduct a competitive solicitation. Their solicitation requirements include an option for other public agencies to access, or “piggyback,” the awarded contract. The use of this exception to public bidding is optional for local governments.”

The Sarasota County Procurement Department document in the April 23 agenda packet explained that Miami-Dade County issued a proposal “as the Lead Public Agency on behalf of U.S. Communities Purchasing Alliance for the procurement of waste carts, recycling carts, cart parts and related products and services. Sarasota County is registered with U.S. Communities as a Participating Agency, which allows [the county] to piggyback the resulting agreement.”

The funding for the purchase of the carts will come out of revenue generated by the Solid Waste Department through customer assessments, the staff memo indicated.

The department staff plans to buy the new carts in May, the memo added.

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