Siesta Village recycling will have to wait at least three more years

Work cannot be done under current maintenance contract, county staff says, and seeking a separate bid for recycling would not be economically feasible, the SKA president says

A Waste Management truck empties a garbage container at The Beach Club. Rachel Hackney photo
A Waste Management worker empties a garbage container at The Beach Club. Rachel Hackney photo

During the summer of 2013, Siesta Key Association (SKA) President Michael Shay began serious discussions with members of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) about the potential for recycling in Siesta Village — a subject near and dear to him, one might say, given his professional background in the recycling business.

After winning encouragement from SKVA members in June 2013 to proceed with the initiative, Shay reported at the organization’s July 2013 monthly meeting that he had identified 12 locations where recycling bins would be most effectively placed, based on the contents of trash dumped at those sites. He found “a lot of water bottles; a lot of cans and glass bottles” in his survey of the Village, he said on July 2, 2013.

Longtime SKVA officer Mark Smith of Smith Architects proposed the merchants’ group invite a Waste Management representative to an upcoming SKVA meeting to discuss recycling options that firm could offer.

“Awesome!” then-SKVA President Cheryl Gaddie replied.

As it turned out, Larry Alexander, Sarasota County’s manager of solid waste collections, came to the very next meeting, on Aug. 6, 2013. Alexander provided information, answered questions and promised to give Gaddie a list of recycling vendors the SKVA could begin contacting.

Through the following two-and-a-half years, Shay continued to work on the project, though he figuratively bumped into new obstacles along the way. This month, however, he conceded one roadblock has derailed any Village recycling for at least three years: the current maintenance contract for Siesta Village upkeep.

SKA President Michael Shay. File photo
SKA President Michael Shay. File photo

“There is no language in the contract about recycling,” he told about 16 SKVA members during their April 5 session.

Even if crews with Buccaneer Landscape Management, which won the Village maintenance contract in August 2014, agreed to empty recycling bins for no extra money, Shay pointed out, county staff had informed him that would not be allowed.

Although county staff had suggested to him that the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. (SKVMC) could pursue a separate bid for recycling, Shay told The Sarasota News Leader, that would not be economically feasible. (The SKVMC represents all the property owners in the Village Public Improvement District; the fees they are assessed annually cover the cost of upkeep.)

Any further talk about recycling, he added in his comments at the SKVA meeting, “has to wait for a new [maintenance] contract.”

The contract the Sarasota County Commission approved with Buccaneer on Aug. 26, 2014 was for three years, at a cost of $129,041.50 per fiscal year. That can be renewed for up to two additional one-year periods, according to the terms.

What happened?

Recycling bins stand at Beach Access 5 just outside Siesta Village. File photo
County recycling bins stand at Beach Access 5 just outside Siesta Village. File photo

Just a couple of years ago, Shay thought he was very close to getting recycling approved for the Village, with a starting date of late summer 2014. However, after Shay had been working on the project for months, Mark Smith — who serves as the liaison between the SKVMC and the county — conceded he had misunderstood about the need to convey to county staff by March 15, 2014 that the SKVMC wanted recycling to be part of the next fiscal year’s responsibilities for Buccaneer.

In June 2014, then-County Engineer James K. Harriott Jr. explained to the News Leader that the March 15 date was established to enable county financial staff to make any necessary calculations for the Public Improvement District property owners to cover new expenses each year. The County Commission works with staff to finalize the county budget every summer for adoption in September, prior to the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year, Harriott noted.

Yet, in a June 17, 2014 telephone interview with the News Leader, Harriott said he would not rule out the possibility that recycling could be implemented in Siesta Village during the 2016 fiscal year.

Shay was working toward that end, he told the News Leader in a telephone interview on April 7, when Lisa Cece, the county’s special district coordinator, informed him that the current maintenance contract has no provision for recycling in the Village, and that contract with Buccaneer could not be amended.

“I wasn’t informed of this last year,” Shay told SKVA members on April 5.

The county and the contract

Lisa Cece attends the Jan. 5 meeting of the SKVA. File photo
Lisa Cece attends the Jan. 5 meeting of the SKVA. File photo

In response to a News Leader request for more details about the situation, Cece sent an explanation by email on April 6. She pointed out that because the current contract does not provide for recycling, an entirely new bid process would have to be pursued for such an initiative. However, she continued, the SKVMC has not indicated it wants to take that path. Further, “Contract No. 2014-451 [with Buccaneer] is in its second year of a five year term and in compliance.”

She also noted, “Any new service cost would require an increase in the ad valorem assessment that is set after March 15th of each year for the next fiscal year (October 1st) as per the Clerk of Court to add to the [Public Improvement] District budget.”

During the April 7 telephone interview with the News Leader, Shay called the situation “completely frustrating” and cited it as an example of government bureaucracy. Nonetheless, he said, “You have to live with it. We’re living with it.”

When he was working toward what he thought would be the addition of recycling responsibilities for Buccaneer in the 2016 fiscal year, he pointed out, county staff gave him a list of approved vendors, so he could get cost estimates. “You have to contact every single one of them,” he noted of those firms. “And there just wasn’t enough time” to do that in 2015 before the March 15 deadline.

Therefore, Shay started on the project again this year. After he obtained all the quotes, he continued, he learned the Buccaneer contract would not allow for recycling. “We would have to go out and do a separate bid just for [the extra service],” he noted.

He was proposing six bins, he added, with the containers to be emptied two or three times a week.

The county Procurement Department provided the County Commission this copy of the Notice to Recommend Award of the Village maintenance contract to Buccaneer in August 2014. Image courtesy Sarasota County
The county Procurement Department provided the County Commission this copy of the Notice of Recommended Award of the Village maintenance contract to Buccaneer in August 2014. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In her April 6 email to the News Leader, Cece also explained, “This change of service would include: vendor quotes for lowest price, proposed number of and cost for recycling containers and proposed locations, and type and size of bin for comingled plastic and aluminum. With this cost estimate of new recycling services, the County would need to seek quotes to enlarge the existing [Village] garbage enclosure with additional fencing and concrete, along with quotes for recycling collection services by a separate vendor to collect individual containers to empty into the new comingled bin for glass and aluminum only as indicated.”

Shay pointed out that with the separation of recyclables from garbage, Buccaneer crews would have less garbage to deal with and, therefore, plenty of time to handle the recyclables. Pursuing a bid just for recycling is “not economically feasible,” he explained, citing his experience in the industry. “It’ll be more expensive to do that than what it would cost for a whole year in the contract.”

Shay reiterated that he has been working on this for about five years. “It’s something that should have been simple.”