A change in the market and the city's own ordinances led to service price increases.
The city of Sarasota is moving forward with a new recycling contractor.
Waste Pro USA Inc. will take over from Waste Management Inc. starting Sept. 1, when Waste Management’s contract with the city ends. A more than 60% increase in the cost of services to extend the Waste Management contract made renewing difficult, city officials said.
“It was sticker shock, if you will,” said Public Works General Manager Todd Kucharski.
Both companies submitted proposed costs that were higher than the current prices, with increases between 26% to 129%.
While part of the price increase is because of market increases since 2010, when Waste Management’s contract started, much of it has to do with the city’s own waste-collection policies. Kucharski said Sarasota’s level of service for yard waste and bulk items, such as furniture and appliances, drives up costs.
“It’s just an unrealistic service to be providing without some kind of charge,” Kucharski said.
Some residents abuse the service by leaving yard waste from their business on their front lawn; some apartments can have frequent bulk waste pickup.
In fact, yard waste will be excluded from the next contract, and is something the city will be responsible for picking up the next year. The cost associated with that is about $500,000 annually, according to a city spokesperson. The total budget for services for the 2017-18 budget year is $2.81 million, up from $2.7 million in the previous budget.
The City Commission approved a contract of up to $2.4 million with Waste Pro for 13 months, during which the city will re-evaluate its ordinances to find areas that can be more efficient.
Despite the shift in vendors, the city is moving forward with its plans for a single-stream recycling service — a system that separates recyclables at the facility, so residents don’t have to keep separate bins for paper, plastics and metals.
Starting in September, residents will keep their green and blue bins, but will be able to fill them with whatever type of recyclables they like. Eventually, the city hopes to give everyone a single wheeled cart to use for recycling.
Doug Jeffcoat, director of Public Works, said at Monday’s meeting that city staff will look at all the possible services for waste collection and make recommendations from there.
“The one-year agreement gives us the opportunity to really assess where we’re at, bring ordinance changes back to you as we move forward in making these decisions,” he said. “[They] will impact whether we do it all in-house ourselves or we contract out.”
Kucharski said the most important thing for residents to know is that they shouldn’t notice any shifts in service come September.
“All they’ll see is a different truck from Waste Pro coming and collecting,” he said.