County’s Waste Management contract extended for 180 days to ensure smooth transition when new solid waste franchise agreement goes into effect in 2025

Responses to county’s Invitation to Negotiate for new contract due Nov. 2

This graphic shows responses to one question in the county’s market assessment, which was undertaken in 2022. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Given the concern that a smooth transition will be achieved for customers after a new solid waste franchise contract goes into effect, the Sarasota County Commission unanimously has approved a 180-day extension of the current agreement with Waste Management.

The item was included on the Oct. 10 meeting agenda as a Presentation Upon Request. No commissioner sought remarks from staff, and none of the board members offered comments themselves before voting on the extension.

A county staff memo included in the agenda packet explained that the new franchise agreement, which would commence on Oct. 1, 2024, would allow for only about eight months of transition. Yet, the memo pointed out, “Industry best management practice would provide a minimum of one year for the transition …”

The 180-day extension, the memo pointed out, would allow staff of the county’s Solid Waste Department to accomplish all of the necessary tasks associated with a new franchise agreement, including “the purchase and distribution of new automated collection carts for garbage, purchase of new truck fleets, establishment of a fleet operation center [and] creation of new service routes,” plus time for county staff to educate residents about the changes.

Further, the memo reminds the commissioners — two of whom were not on the board at the time — that, in July 2022, Brian Usher, director of the Solid Waste Department, presented to the board members the findings of an online county market assessment that took place from March 28, 2022 through May 6, 2022.

During his presentation, Usher noted that staff was considering a switch to the use of automated garbage collection in carts, similar to the move in 2020 to single-stream recycling.

Waste Management uses trucks specially designed to pick up the recycling containers that county staff distributed to residents. That change allows just the drivers of those trucks to handle the collections, eliminating the need for an extra worker typical on trucks collecting garbage and yard waste.

Usher also noted in July 2022 that the survey had found that 94% of the respondents had agreed that they would be able to get all of their weekly trash in a 95-gallon container.

Moreover, Usher talked that day of the need for “an aggressive outreach campaign” to inform customers about any changes that would be part of the new franchise contract.

On Aug. 9, the county began advertising its solicitation for an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) for the new contract. The bids had been due on Oct. 12, but that deadline was extended to Nov. 2, The Sarasota News Leader learned.

The documentation points out that, under the new franchise agreement, county staff will be dividing its service area into northern and southern districts.

The term of the new agreement will be seven years, ending on Sept. 30, 2031. However, the agreement could be renewed for one, additional seven-year term and then a second, six-year term, the solicitation says.

Further, the Scope of Work in the documents includes a chart — dated Jan. 31 of this year — showing estimated numbers of customers. In the North District, the county had 64,277 single-family homes as customers, one document notes, with 74,037 in the South District, for a total of 138,314. For multi-family housing, the number of North District residences was 17,172, with 11,365 in the South District, for a total of 28,537. Those add up to 166,851 household units, the chart points out.

These are the charts with customer figures in the Scope of Work for the Invitation to Negotiate a new county solid waste franchise agreement. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The total number of commercial customers was 14,129, the chart said with 8,484 of them in the North District and 5,645 in the South District.

Collections would continue on a minimum basis of once a week, the Scope of Work also points out.