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Manatee trash collections could drop to once per week

Trash haulers are operating at a loss with twice-weekly collections, and county commissioners expressed concerns around the possibility of overburdening certain residents with rate increases.

Deputy Director of Utilities Kevin Morris and Utilities Director Evan Pilachoswki prepare for a presentation to commissioners on Jan. 17.
Deputy Director of Utilities Kevin Morris and Utilities Director Evan Pilachoswki prepare for a presentation to commissioners on Jan. 17.
Photo by Ian Swaby
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As Manatee County moves forward into the new year, its commission is faced with decisions about how to handle increases that will be required in residents’ garbage collection services.

One of the major decisions facing commissioners involves the county’s solid waste contract, which is set to expire in September.

County Administrator Scott Hopes said Jan. 17 the county’s two haulers, Waste Management and Waste Pro, are operating at a loss under the current contract, and that the county is actively negotiating with them to determine under what terms they would continue to provide service.

If no terms can be reached, he said, they would no longer be able to provide services beginning Oct. 1. County Attorney William Clague said a temporary extension of the contract would be legally possible.

One of the major decisions is the frequency of solid waste collection. Solid waste, which includes garbage and yard waste, is currently collected twice per week in Manatee County. Recyclables are collected once a week.

Reducing all items to a once-per-week pickup would expand the pickup cart from 64 gallons to 96 gallons.

Mitch Kessler, a consultant, said the county could implement a procedure to give an additional green solid waste cart to large families. The container has a one-time additional cost of $85 to be delivered to residents’ doors, in addition to another $4 a month for collection

An option would exist to request a smaller can for the benefit of older residents who cannot maneuver the larger one.

There was debate among commissioners as to who should bear the cost of the additional can.

At-large Commissioner George Kruse said it should fall on the users of the cans.

“You have to look at what nine out of 10 people need, and that’s what everyone should be charged,” he said.

District 1 Commissioner James Satcher said the responsibility should fall on the overall county.

“I would say that for our families in Manatee County, who are paying ridiculous numbers right now for a dozen eggs, this is the wrong time to ensure they’re paying every little bit of their share on a contract,” he said.

Hopes said the board had the option to make the extra can available as part of the capital expenditure of the county, rather than including it in the utilities fees. 

Kessler recommended commissioners limit bulk collection services in the county or require customers to pay for their use, as well as remove a free one-time annual collection of 60 cubic yards of material, which he said added up to almost $600,000 a year.

“I don't know of another Community anywhere in the United States that allows residents to have a one-time cleanup at what appears to be no charge,” he said.

He also recommended limiting yard waste to 4 cubic yards that are 12 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 3 feet high.

County Administrator Scott Hopes said the county has an all-inclusive monthly utility bill of $14.33. He said $9 goes towards solid waste collection, with $5.33 covering all other costs. Hopes said based on commissioners’ decisions, the hauling cost alone could rise from $9 to as much as $15.27, which would be a total of $20.60 per month.

During a Jan. 19 land use meeting, the commission voted to cancel discussions of the utilities decisions that would have been held Jan. 31, postponing the topic to an undetermined later date.



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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