New garbage system to begin
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 26, 2000
Hernando County will dump its 10-year-old residential garbage collection program Oct. 1 in favor of a less expensive, more heavily regulated alternative.
The new system, approved by county commissioners in January, will bring one new trash hauler to the county and expand the service areas of two others. All customers will get twice-weekly pickups and, unless they were getting only one pickup a week before, all will see their rates go down.
All three companies will have to follow strict county guidelines relating to their fees, truck cleanliness and other contractual issues. Under the old system, only Waste Management had a contract with the county, leaving little room for the county to control the actions of its other trash collectors.
"They're going to get better service for less cost," commission Chairman Paul Sullivan said. "That was the stated goal when the commission put out its request for proposals."
Commission debates over the changes were "gut-wrenching" as they occurred, Commissioner Pat Novy said. Some residents did not want to lose their garbage companies, while others worried about the possible domination of national hauler Waste Management Inc.
Commissioners, meanwhile, raised concerns about having a single company serving the entire county. That's why they denied a bid by Liberty Waste & Recycling to cover everyone, opting instead to grant Waste Management a contract with rates higher than Liberty's for the densely populated southwest section of the county.
They then put the northwest and eastern parts of the county up for bid separately.
Central Carting won the east county contract in the spring as the best individual bidder. BFI was the original top bidder for the northwest, but it backed out on negotiations because it would not offer rates as low as the county wanted. Seaside Disposal then grabbed that contract in a rebid. The changes do not affect the city of Brooksville.
Questions about whether to start curbside recycling also came into play, Novy said, and the discussion became complex. Recycling does not figure into the new program.
"We were trying to be equitable, not just with the haulers but with the citizens who are paying the fees," she said.
Only time, and residents' phone calls, will tell if the program is a success, she said.
Changes will be limited, county Code Enforcement Director Frank McDowell III said. Code Enforcement oversees the trash collection franchises.
"The majority of folks will have the same pickup days," McDowell said.
If the days change, the collection companies will contact the customers.
Residents will be able to use garbage cans of up to 45 gallons and put out up to 150 pounds of trash for each collection, as before. But the county has set restrictions on the times garbage cans can be placed at the curb.
Containers must be removed by the end of the day that the garbage was collected, a change from previous rules.
Also new, customers who have bulk waste such as a couch or a refrigerator no longer may place the items on the curb for regular pickup, Solid Waste Manager Stephanie Burkhardt said. Instead, she said, they must call their garbage hauler and request a special pickup, of which they will get two free annually.
Less noticeable but equally important, all the companies' trucks, rules and rates will be controlled by county contracts for the first time.
Previously, only Waste Management had a contract with the county for its service to Spring Hill.
"We never had franchise agreements with the (other) contractors," McDowell said. "We just inspected their vehicles and gave them a license to operate annually."
Such an arrangement resulted in sometimes spotty service without a means to handle it, he said.
The new set-up gives Waste Management, Seaside Sanitation and Central Carting and Disposal five-year deals in exchange for county quality controls.
Having those rules in place was a selling point for commissioners.
"Now with contracts we can ensure the quality of service remains high," Sullivan said.
"We need to see how happy the people are," Novy added, "because that's who is paying for it."
If customers have questions about their service, they should call their hauler, McDowell said.
Central Carting, which will serve Hernando County east of U.S. 41, can be reached at 796-7411.
Waste Management, serving High Point, Brookridge, Hernando Beach, Pine Island and Spring Hill south of Cortez Boulevard, can be reached at 800-255-7172.
Seaside Disposal, serving northwest Hernando north of Cortez Boulevard, can be reached at 800-330-9820.
If people have problems with their companies, they are asked to call McDowell or Chuck Lewis, the county's franchise director.
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