Higher recycling and solid waste collection fees to be imposed by City of Sarasota starting Oct. 1

Commission votes 3-2 on second and final reading of ordinance

A graphic provided to the City Commission during its special budget meeting on July 9 offers details about the Solid Waste Management Division changes. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

Sarasota City Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie joined Commissioner Hagen Brody this week in voting against increases in residential and commercial solid waste collection fees.

With Mayor Liz Alpert joining Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch in approving Commissioner Willie Shaw’s motion to implement the new rates, the measure passed on its second and final reading.

When the board took its first vote on the issue on Aug. 20, Brody was the lone opponent of the revised fees.

The new rates will go into effect on Oct. 1, with the start of the new fiscal year.

No commissioner offered a comment on the changes prior to the Sept. 4 vote. However, that night, when the commission held a public hearing on the proposed increase in the city’s overall millage rate for the 2019 fiscal year, Freeland Eddie noted her displeasure with staff’s reluctance to phase-in its handling of all residential recycling. (See the related story in this issue.)

Doug Jeffcoat addresses the City Commission in 2016. File photo

On Aug. 20, Public Works Department Director Doug Jeffcoat explained that city staff decided to bring the recycling work in-house because continuing to contract for the service would have been even more expensive. The switch is expected to save the city about $200,000 a year, he said, “maybe more.”

With the City Commission’s approval this week, residential customers will pay a monthly fee of $24.55 for the once-a-week collections of garbage, recycling and yard waste. That is an increase of 1.89 per month.

Further, residential customers will pay an extra $1.89 per cubic yard for improperly prepared yard waste, for a total of $26.64. The ordinance the board approved this week also refers to the commingling of a residential customer’s yard waste or trash “with any other matter” as a reason to impose that fee. The minimum charge in such situations would be $19.81, the ordinance says.

Commercial users will see their monthly rates rise 5% for all types of containers, Jeffcoat told the commissioners on Aug. 20.

For example, the ordinance says that a commercial user with one wheeled container no larger than 96 gallons will pay $32.43 for month, with collections to be made twice a week. The current monthly fee for such a commercial user is $30.89.

For two containers, the monthly bill will rise from $61.78 to $64.87.

For multi-family dwellings, the new ordinance says, a recycling fee of $3.06 will be charged per dwelling unit, “whether occupied or not.” The ordinance adds, “Number, size, type and location of containers, and frequency of collection, to be as determined by the city manager.”

The last time the City Commission raised solid waste collection fees was in 2016.