By CARRIE JOHNSON, Times Staff Writer
Published July 22, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Advocates for curbside recycling won a small victory Thursday when City Council members agreed to discuss holding a citywide referendum on the issue.
The topic was raised during the open forum portion of the council meeting, where residents are allowed to speak on any topic for three minutes.
Alan Turtle, a recycling enthusiast, asked council members to reconsider their stance on the service, which is provided in most other large cities in Florida.
After Turtle's comments, council member Bill Foster said he thought the best way to decide whether residents want curbside recycling is to put it to a vote. "We've got an election coming up in November," Foster said. "What would be so wrong with putting a question on the ballot asking people if they want curbside recycling?"
Other council members expressed some hesitation. Council Chairman Richard Kriseman said the question must be phrased to warn people there would be a cost involved.
And council member Jay Lasita reminded his colleagues they were elected to handle issues like curbside recycling without a ballot question, which should only be used as a last resort.
But members finally decided to send the issue to the Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations committee. They did not take a vote. If the committee approves the idea, it would be sent back to the full council for a public hearing and a vote.
The deadline to send language for the Nov. 8 ballot to the Pinellas County supervisor of elections office is Sept. 16.
It was an abrupt change from last month, when the council voted 7-1 to drop a discussion of curbside recycling, saying there wasn't enough support to warrant a new date.
Turtle said he was pleased to see the council change its position. "I'm pleasantly surprised," he said. "I'm glad they changed their minds a little bit and agreed to reconsider."