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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeAt Home & BeyondTalkin’ Trash in 2023

Talkin’ Trash in 2023

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Changes to solid waste collection policies were discussed at the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Workshop on March 7th. Commissioners and staff discussed changes in rates and policies for convenience centers, residential waste collection, yard waste, and bulk collection. There were no votes during this meeting.

The county’s current contract with Republic Services ends in December 2025. Commissioners also discussed procedures for requests for bids and Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) in preparation for a contract renewal with Republic or contracting with a new hauler.

Recommendations from Raftelis, a rate consultant firm that works with local governments and utilities, suggest rate increases for all areas of solid waste collection. The 2024 annual collection fee for residential customers is recommended to be $201.40, a $6.88 per year increase from the 2023 fee of $194.52. Raftelis’ forecast extends to 2028 and assumes the current contract with Republic stays in place.

The Disposal Assessment recommendation is $94.91, a $9.41 increase over 2023. Construction and Demolition disposal could increase from $54.50 to $60.50, and yard waste from $30.00 to $54.50.

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The most considerable portion of the discussion was on the disposal of travel trailers and single and double-wide mobile homes. There is no fee difference between trailers with tires and trailers without tires. The new fee schedule increases the base price based on size and whether or not the structure has tires.

Utilities Director Gordon Onderdonk began his presentation with a mention of the evident inflation that has been affecting service costs nationwide. For example, the current monthly collection rate in the county’s universal mandatory collection area is $14.94 monthly, and subscriptions outside of this area are $15.19.

Hernando County is on the low end of the residential fee scale. Polk County is the lowest at $10.61 monthly, and Citrus County is at $39.31 monthly.
The mandatory collection areas are primarily in Spring Hill, where the highest density of population is in the county. Commissioners agreed on combining two options to expand the universal area to Hernando Beach (option 1) to the west and to the Suncoast Parkway to the east (option 2). Additionally, new developments of Class-A subdivisions (50 lots or more), even those built in the more rural areas, will increase population densities and should be considered mandatory as well.

With the Republic contract ending in December 2025, Commissioners came to a consensus to begin negotiations with the current hauler to learn what a new contract would look like with the expanded mandatory areas. If the outcome is unsatisfactory, the County will advertise an RFQ, from which the most qualified company will be asked for bids.

The current service levels for collection are expected to remain the same; trash collection two days per week and recyclable and yard waste collection one day a week. Bulk collection of furniture and household items will stay at one pickup four times per year.

It is currently unclear if “one collection” means one item or a set of items, such as a dining room set. Onderdonk proposed clarifying the parameters to “four collections per year, but (allow) up to seven items each for each collection.” The change in policy language is being considered.

Collection requirements for yard waste changes were also considered. The current requirement to cut yard waste to three-foot bundled segments may be changed to allow yard waste to be contained in residential waste bins, but not the blue carts used for household trash.

Commissioners also mulled closing the two convenience centers in the county, which currently cost roughly $2 million each to operate. Onderdonk cautioned that some costs could remain even if the convenience centers were closed since the county’s facilities would still be used by residents taking their waste directly to the landfill. Onderdonk and staff will have the final proposed rate increases available for the board at some point in June or July.

Solid Waste Director Scott Harper reported that since August, the west Convenience Center saw a drop in usage by not allowing trailers during construction at the site. The move has resulted in 89.9 fewer visits per day and has saved the county $44,590.

Before this construction, vehicles with trailers were allowed two visits per day to the Convenience Center. The tracking of individuals presenting to these centers is problematic and carries the potential for abuse, such as the reporting of a different address when one’s maximum allowed usage has been reached.

Going forward, Harper proposed allowing one visit per day to the convenience center. He and Commissioners discussed better tracking methods to prevent overages in visits. Other proposed changes to the convenience centers include limiting construction and demolition debris and restricting furniture and yard waste collection to five trips per year. All additional loads must be taken to the landfill, which will be charged per visit.

The changes discussed at this meeting will come back before the BOCC for approval in future meetings.

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Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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