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Be on lookout for yard waste dumping

St. Pete Beach residents face higher garbage rates if the illegal dumping continues.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


ST. PETE BEACH -- Wanted: information leading to the identification of illegal dumpers, who already have cost the city's trash collector $30,000 and could prompt an increase in residential garbage bills.

Apparently one or more lawn services are unloading their yard waste at the curb of vacant city lots. BFI, the city's trash hauler, dutifully picked up the garbage and the tab until last April, when the collector refused to pay the county's dumping charges.

City Manager Carl Schwing also refused to pay the bill, arguing that it was BFI's responsibility. Eventually, BFI relented and acknowledged that its contract with the city required the hauler to absorb the cost.

Case closed?

No. It seems that a burgeoning amount of unclaimed yard waste -- palm fronds, grass clippings, brush -- is accumulating in the city, and BFI tells Schwing it can't afford to continue paying the bills.

The consequence?

Schwing says the city must halt the illegal dumping or face higher garbage rates.

"The volume of yard waste coming out of this island has doubled over years past," Schwing said. "If we don't stop this, we'll be hit with a price increase on our next contract cycle."

The solution?

Citizen spotters, the city manager says.

"I ask the citizens to be on the watch for this," Schwing said. "Call the city or the police if you see anything. If we are vigilant on this island, we can nip this in the bud."

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