By Tamas Mondovics
A gray cart for garbage and a blue cart for recyclables will begin to be delivered this month to more than 250,000 homes throughout Hillsborough County ahead of the new collection service scheduled to start for most customers the week of September 30.
With a 7-0 vote at the end of 2011, the BOCC made a way for opening its 17-year-long garbage hauling contracts to open bids, claiming that the process will allow the best rates for county residents and taxpayers.
Following a series of public meetings and eventually granting new solid waste franchise collection agreements in January of this year to the original three companies; Republic Services of Florida, Waste Management Inc. of Florida, and Waste Services of Florida, the BOCC voted unanimously again in May to select a new 2-1-1 “automated” service option as the way residential garbage and recyclables are collected.
The “automation” of the process means that beginning in October, residents will be bringing garbage and recyclables to the curb in their brand new, gray (95 gal.) and blue (65 gal.) standardized wheeled carts or cans provided by the County that must be used with the automated collection trucks.
According to county officials, as a direct result of the effort and the subsequent change, residential solid waste customers will pay less money for their service in 2014.
“Altogether, the county will save nearly $10 million annually by the County Commission’s decision to reshape the collection program,” said county spokesperson, Michelle Van Dyke, adding that the 2-1-1 automated service option is projected to save the county more than $7.5 million annually or $52,790,108 over the 7-year contract. “This is a 22 percent reduction over the current contracts.”
During a public hearing last month, Hillsborough Commissioners adopted the rates for 2014 that total $222.75 for residential solid waste collection and disposal for owners of single-family homes.
Van Dyke emphasized that the county was able to lower costs while keeping the same collection frequency residents currently have – two garbage pick-ups, one recycling and one yard waste collection a week – and providing the roll carts—the cost of which is included in the annual collection assessment.
At the cost of $25 million, the county purchased more than 500,000 brand new carts made just for Hillsborough County.
By request, residents who did not qualify to receive smaller carts will have a chance to swap out their carts to a different size between January15 and March 15.
“For now we would like everyone to give these new standard sized carts a try,” Van Dyke said. “If then they would like to change them, they may do so once at no charge.”
The new automated collection format also means the loss of some jobs, but county officials said that each of the three haulers had plenty of time to prepare and that the reduction of workforce will be minimal as employees will be offered other jobs while the vacant positions will not be filled.
As for what to do with the old carts, Van Dyke said that the county is considering several option, including the possibility of collecting old unwanted cans.
For more information about the new collection program, and a detailed explanation of the new format, residents are encouraged to visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/talktrash or call 272-5680.