Sept. 11 public hearing planned on proposed increases in county residential and commercial recycling fees

Plan also calls for switch to single-stream recycling system, with all residential materials to go into 64-gallon carts

A chart shows the proposed changes in residential fees for recycling. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Starting in 2019 — if the Sarasota County Commission approves a proposed ordinance — residential customers in the unincorporated parts of the county will be asked to switch from separating their recyclables to putting them all in one cart, the county’s Public Utilities director explained to the commission this week.

Additionally, as part of a six-year contract extension with Waste Management of Florida, the annual fees for the service are expected to go up 7% in both the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years, Scott Schroyer told the commissioners on Aug. 28 during their regular meeting in Venice.

Overall, he said, the county would pay about $27.4 million per year for its curbside garbage, recycling and yard waste collections for approximately 155,500 residential and commercial customers. That would cover about 14 million collections performed each year, Schroyer added.

The commissioners voted unanimously on Aug. 28 to approve the contract extension with Waste Management, which will go into effect on Oct. 1.

A public hearing on the proposed changes in the county’s ordinance governing curbside collections of garbage, yard waste and recycling materials will be held during the morning session of the board’s Sept. 11 regular meeting. That session will begin at 9 a.m. at the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, which is located at 4000 S. Tamiami Trail in Venice.

The current recycling rate for single-family homes is $159.48 a year; the proposed new rate would be $170.64 in the 2020 fiscal year and then $182.58 in the 2021 fiscal year, according to a chart Schroyer showed the board. No further increases are planned through the 2024 fiscal year, he added.

For multi-family homes, the annual assessment would remain $134.94 for the 2019 fiscal year, Schroyer said. The fee would go up to $144.39 in the 2020 fiscal year, and then it would rise to $154.50 in FY21. Mirroring the plan with the residential rates, the figure would remain unchanged from FY22 through FY24, the chart pointed out.

A chart provides details about the county’s curbside collections program. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The commercial rates would be adjusted annually by a formula that reflects changes in the Consumer Price Index and the cost of fuel, Schroyer explained. The minimum increase would be 2% a year; the maximum, 5%,

Department outreach to the public would begin in October, Schroyer told the commissioners, so customers would be aware of the coming changes.

The rate upticks would be the first since November 2005, according to an Aug. 28 memo from Schroyer to the board.

The county plans to purchase 128,900 carts for residential customers, Schroyer said; Waste Management will reimburse the county for them.

After Schroyer’s Aug. 28 presentation, Commissioner Michael Moran asked how the purchase of the new recycling carts “is … baked into the cake as far as the pricing of this?”

George MacFarlane, business manager of the Public Utilities Department, told Moran that each cart costs approximately $45. The expense would be reflected by approximately $6 of the increase residential customers would pay over the six-year period of the contract extension with Waste Management, MacFarlane added.

This is a 64-gallon heavy-duty residential recycling cart produced by Toter. Image from Amazon.com

“These are very large carts,” Moran noted, referencing details provide during one-on-one discussions staff had had with the commissioners. His concern, Moran continued, is that people will object to having to store 64-gallon carts in their garages. “It’s just going to be an issue, if you ask me,” Moran added, noting his wife’s displeasure with the situation.

If that proves to be a major problem, Schroyer told Moran, “We’ll do an exchange” of the 64-gallon carts for 48-gallon models.

When Moran asked if that would necessitate an extra expense for the county, Schroyer said it would not.

Commissioner Charles Hines made the motion to authorize advertisement of the Sept. 11 public hearing and to approve the renewal of the Waste Management contract. Moran seconded it. After it passed 5-0, Hines said, “When you think about the number of opportunities that Waste Management has to deal with our public, on the roads, once a week — residential, commercial — many, many places where things can go wrong — for the vast majority, 99.9% of the time, things go right.”

Hines added that when a problem does arise or a complaint comes in to the county, Waste Management employees “seem to be right on top if it immediately.”

Hines extended his appreciation to Waste Management and its workers. “They do a great job.”

A brief history lesson

During his presentation, Schroyer noted that the county’s mandatory curbside garbage collection program began in 1988. In 2004, the county approved a contract with Waste Management to handle the collections.

The contract renewal the board approved this week included the option of converting the residential curbside recycling collection from the current dual-stream system — with paper goods separated from cans, plastic and glass items, for examples — to an automated single-stream system, Schroyer’s Aug. 28 memo explains.

The contractor that has been processing the county’s recyclable materials through a dual-stream collection system “has decided not to exercise the three-year optional renewal on their contract,” which expires on Sept. 30, the memo adds.

A chart provides information about the proposed changes in the county curbside collections program. Image courtesy Sarasota County

“Contingent on approval of the franchise renewal agreement” with Waste Management, the memo continues, as well as approval of the proposed new ordinance relating to the county’s solid waste, Waste Management will buy 27 new vehicles for the recycling collections. Those vehicles would be powered by compressed natural gas, the memo notes. They would be put in service by April 2019, the memo adds.

“Moving to single-stream recycling will likely have a negative impact on the quality of the recyclables to be sold,” the memo points out, “which could reduce or eliminate the net revenues from the sale of recyclables … due to an increase in cross contamination when materials are collected in the same container.”

The revenue totaled $910,747 in the 2017 fiscal year, the memo says.

“The recycling industry is also experiencing a significant decrease in the commodity prices paid per ton for all types of recyclable materials due to worldwide market changes which will result in increases to the net cost of recycling,” the memo adds.

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