The Board of County Commissioners found themselves in a quandary, having signed a contract with Republic Waste Management establishing several unpopular service changes including rate increases in the face of poor job performance by Republic. To not approve the Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) assessment establishment on the May 22, 2018 agenda would be in breach of their contract with Republic. In the end, the board voted unanimously to establish the MSBU.
The 6th amendment to the contract with Republic was adopted and signed October 24, 2017, and included the following:
“• Mandatory Area Billing to be discontinued from the water bill to a non-ad valorem assessment effective January 1, 2019.
• Remove Consumer Price Index (CPI) references and replace with Water Sewer Trash Index (WSTI).
• Amend the age of the fleet clause to ten (10) years.
• Republic Services will purchase, distribute to County residents and maintain all automation carts containers for the life of this contract.
• Renew contract 11-0008 (Franchise Agreement) for a seven (7) year period upon BOCC approval of Amendment No. 6 period ending December 31, 2026, with requirement that Republic Services implement automation services during the current contract performance period ending December 31, 2018.
• Rate increase for Mandatory and Non-Mandatory Areas effective January 01, 2019.”
Republic cited significant revenue loss due to non-payment of service bills as the reason for the rate increases and the MSBU establishment. After the contract was signed, major service issues began to surface in the early part of 2018, which led to the county fining Republic $150,000. Chairman Champion remarked in a meeting earlier this month, “The negotiated contract was a very good deal. Whether Republic is delivering or not, that’s a whole other argument. That’s why we fined them the $150,000 and we’re working towards resolving that. From the latest report it looks like it is improving- of course it’s not perfect yet.”
The county received numerous letters objecting to the rate increases and the mandatory area assessment prior to the May 22 meeting. They also heard from a large number of citizens during that meeting. Whether written or communicated in person, there were concerns about the new 96 gallon automated trash bins being too large for elderly persons to manage or overkill for the amount of trash they produce. There were questions about what happens if the automated trash carts are damaged or go missing.
Chairman Champion asked the Republic representatives to “confirm they will maintain the cans and not charge the citizens.”
Seth Weightman with Republic stated, “In our new contract, every can that we deliver to a paying customer will be maintained by Republic for the life of the contract. And that asset will become property of the county at the end of the contract.” He said that Republic will repair damage to cans as long as it is ‘normal wear and tear.’
He said that the cans all have a serial number stamped into it and coordinates on where and when it was placed.
John Timmerman on Baffin Circle in Spring Hill writes, “I am objecting to the garbage increase. I have 3 homes on Baffin Circle : 5551 Baffin Circle, 5570 Baffin Circle, 5560 Baffin Circle. The service is terrible. They don’t pick up on a regular basis. They throw the cans in rd. They leave most of the stuff behind. On brush day even when it’s neatly in a garbage can they miss it. They missed Baffin Circle for three pickups of garbage in a row. When county renewal comes up we should be considering a new company. ”
Anthony Palmieri, a frequent commenter at local government meetings writes, “Why it [MSBU] is not applied to the entire county? This is discrimination in case you do not know! What are the funds going to be use for? Your notice does not answers any of these questions. The people should know the reason for this proposed MSBU, what the funds are going to be used, and why this applies only to the SW area of the County. Whoever got this idea, must GO, that includes County Commissioners and County Administrator. This is the end for all of you!”
The Board at Timber Pines writes, “We are a Village Board of Directors in Timber Pines and object to this proposal .. If cost of Collection has gone up beyond current revenue we would suggest a once per week collection in place of the current twice per week schedule. If adopted this would cut the current cost by a large percentage. We hope you will give this some serious consideration…”
Brian & Judieth Neville write, “I am contacting you as probably a lot of other people will be re the above procedure and cost change. I can’t believe that you are going to charge a person for a service that they are not using. That is, charging us for a 12 month service when we only use it for a maximum of 6 months! Now if we could stay longer then one could maybe agree. However we can only stay 6 months yet you plan to charge us for 12 months even though we can only stay for 6! This really doesn’t seem to be the American way. While we may wish the cost was lower per month that fact that we pay for 12 but only can use it for 6; well that is just not right nor fair. Could I suggest it might even be unconstitutional?? Please reconsider. Yours Truly, Brian & Judieth Neville… Timber Pines, Spring Hill, 34606.”
Paula Syles in Spring Hill writes, “I already am forced to pay for a service that is only, at best, 50-75 % completed. Just this Monday, my trash was not picked up. I have even stopped calling to complain because it does no good. We don’t even recycle anymore because they were so unreliable in that service, most of the trash just blew away.”
Questions arose about yard waste and County Waste Management Director stated, “You’ll still be able to put out the same yard waste you do currently.” He said the yard waste is not going to be picked up by an automated arm and if you put your yard waste in containers currently, you’ll still be able to do so. Recycling will not be affected either.
Citizens unhappy with the rate increase and the establishment of the MSBU for the mandatory billing area inquired about signatures for a petition in order to put a referendum against the MSBU on the ballot. County Attorney Garth Coller said that they will need to speak with the Supervisor of Elections Office. Coller did caution that even if a referendum to eliminate the MSBU passed, the referendum would have no effect on an existing contract. The MSBU would only be eliminated after the contract is over Dec. 31, 2026.
What is an MSBU?
The municipal service benefit unit is a non-ad valorem tax assessment placed your tax bill for a service rendered by the county or in this case, a county contractor.
Rate Change effective Jan. 1, 2019:
Mandatory Area (Spring Hill):
Contract Collection Rate: $13.27 (up from $8.18)
Property Appraiser and Tax Collector Expense (4% gross-up): $0.55
Early Prepayment Discount Gross-up (4% gross-up): $0.58
The annualized assessment = $14.40 x 12 months = $172.80
Non Mandatory Areas:
From $8.18 per month to $13.49 per month