Rebuffing Waste Management’s call for 10.7% increase in garbage, recycling and yard waste collection fee, County Commission approves 5% uptick for 2023 fiscal year

Single-family households to pay $10 a month starting Oct. 1

During a July presentation to the Sarasota County Commission, Brian Usher, director of the county’s Solid Waste Department, noted that Waste Management had sought a 10.7% increase in its rate for county customers for the 2023 fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1.

However, Usher added, staff had made it clear to Waste Management representatives that staff would hold firm on the 5% cap for those increases that was built into the county’s current contract with the firm.

Nonetheless, that same day — July 13 — the new Waste Management representative for the region, Tim Bowers, who is based in Venice, talked about the problems with which the company has been contending. Among those, he pointed out, are inflation — especially in regard to fuel prices — and a nationwide shortage of drivers who have the necessary certification to handle the company’s equipment.

In spite of Bowers’ remarks, Usher’s stance prevailed.

On Aug. 30, in unanimous approval of their Consent Agenda of routine business items, the commissioners agreed to that 5% increase for both the residential and the commercial solid waste collection rates for FY 2023.

Last year — on Aug. 24 — the commissioners unanimously approved a 3.71% increase in the residential rate and a 2% uptick in the commercial rate. The previous year, the residential rate hike was the same, 3.71%, but the commercial rate rose by 2.63%.

A county staff memo provided to the commissioners in advance of their Aug. 30 meeting explained the formula used to calculate the annual rate adjustments Waste Management. That formula incorporates the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, as well as the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly reports on the cost per gallon of “On-Highway Diesel Fuel,” the memo noted.

“The percent change in the 12-month average price per gallon of diesel fuel ending May 31st of the prior contract year is compared to the same period for the current contract year and is multiplied by 8.84%,” the memo added. For the 2023 fiscal year, the memo continued, both the commercial and residential CPI component was calculated to be 10.77%, while the fuel portion for each was 4.51%. Thus, the memo said, the maximum, 5% rate increases provided for in the Waste Management contract would be applied during FY 2023.

Charts provided to the commissioners for the Aug. 30 agenda item show that residential rates are divided into two classes, I and II. The first is for single-family households; the second, for households in multi-family buildings.

For the 2023 fiscal year, the Class I rate, for single-family households, will be $10 per month. That covers the collections of solid waste, recycling and yard waste, the chart explains.

For multi-family households — Class II — the rate will be $9.73 per month.

For the current fiscal year, which will end on Sept. 30, the Class I customers have been paying $9.52 a month; the rate for the Class II customers has been $9.27 per month.

The commercial rates are divided according to multiple factors, including the size and frequency of collections each week.

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