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Sarasota Thursday, Sep. 2, 2010 7 years ago

OUR VIEW: Trash talk


The good news: Residential garbage rates in the city of Sarasota dropped $3 a month effective Wednesday — to $21.66. This will save about $700,000 in a year.

The not-so-good news: The city’s garbage collection rate is still the highest in the area. What’s more, as of Wednesday, even though the price dropped, so did the service. It was cut from two to one day a week.

Apparently, though, this reduced service is more good news. Mayor Kelly Kirschner reports the city will be making our portion of the earth more “sustainable” by having fewer garbage trucks on the road. This will save taxpayers 3,760 gallons of gas per year. At, say, $2.60 a gallon, that would be a savings of $9,776 a year.

The mayor says fewer garbage trucks also will reduce carbon emissions 40 tons a year. When we checked on the value of carbon emissions — called carbon offsets — the price varies from about $10 to $15 a metric ton. At 40 tons a year, the value of that savings to taxpayers is about $600 a year.

We’re not quite sure what to make of all of these savings. Every little bit helps. But in the scheme of a $54 million annual general fund budget, they don’t exactly make you say: “Wow, great job.”

For that kind of “atta boy,” the city should be figuring out how to make its solid-waste collection costs equal to or lower than its neighboring peers.

Better yet, why not privatize? City Manager Bob Bartolotta says all of the city’s trash collection already is handled by Waste Management, except for the home pickup service. And in city surveys, he says, residents say they value that service more than any other the city provides — a factor that made city commissioners back off of privatizing it altogether several years ago.

Nonetheless, the numbers don’t add up. Sarasota’s costs are still 15% to 27% higher than its peers.

The monthly charge for residential solid waste pickup. All jurisdictions except the city of Sarasota provide twice-weekly service.

Sarasota County $15.68
Bradenton $16.60
Venice $16.84
Longboat Key $18.41
City of Sarasota $21.66*
* It dropped from $24.66 effective Sept. 1


+ Crist wears no clothes
Sarasota resident Gil Waters brings up a crucial issue for the U.S. Senate and Florida gubernatorial races: property insurance.

It’s especially apropos now — at the height of the hurricane season.

Waters knows insurance. He was the founder of FCCI Insurance Co. in 1959 and CEO until 1985. In 1978, he founded Florida Employer’s Insurance Co.

Says Waters in a letter to The Sarasota Observer:

“Florida’s future hangs on a fatal weakness in its hurricane-damage insurance system.

“Gov. Charlie Crist is responsible. He cynically has driven out of the state the traditional national carriers that have reserves and adequate reinsurance with catastrophe reinsurers.

“He has championed a totally inadequate system of small undercapitalized new local insurance companies. Leading the pack is the state-owned Citizens Property Insurance, backed by Crist. None of these under-capitalized companies is designed to pay the billions of hurricane-related future property damage claims.

“There is no system in place by which catastrophe reinsurance is provided to protect Florida property owners.

“Inevitably, Florida citizens and property owners will end up as the de facto reinsurers of the next ‘Big One.’

“Thanks to Crist, this is the sword that hangs over us all. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott must tell this story — and how to fix it.

“The emperor has no raincoat. We will all get very wet,” Waters says.

Crist should pray Florida avoids a direct hit between now and the election. If a hurricane hits, the aftermath, for sure, will sink Crist’s candidacy.

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