Hillsborough garbage dispute intensifies

10/31/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Next Wednesday the Hillsborough County Commission will deal with a garbage hauling issue that could affect how much county residents end up paying for curbside pickups.

Since 1996, the county has contacted with three major companies to pick up garbage. In exchange for providing that service for a relatively low fee, those companies have exclusive rights to haul construction debris and non-processable waste throughout Hillsborough.

But a number of small businesses throughout the county say that’s unfair. Dan Jenkins, with Grapple Hook Marketing, which represents the Tampa Bay Truck Center, is one of those critics.

Waste Management of Florida is one of the so called ‘Big 3’ that have the exclusive contract with the County. The others are Waste Services of Florida, and Republic Services of Florida.

Jenkins says there are actually two groups of people adversely affected by the county’s exclusive contract with the Big 3. People who haul, and the people who ask them to haul.

That’s why he says organizations like the Tampa Bay Homebuilders Association are supportive of breaking up the monopoly.

Tampa attorney Steve Anderson is representing Waste Services in the dispute. He says county residents are currently paying extremely low rates for their garbage pickup.

And Anderson says that it’s patently unfair for these so-called "rogue haulers" to undercut the Big 3, because they’re not contracted to do regular garbage pickup, which doesn’t make them any money.

Anderson says his client is okay with what he calls Mom & Pop hauling companies, but draws the line on out of county organizations.

But while Dan Jenkins from Grapple Hook Marketing concedes the garbage collection rates for Hillsborough residents are cheap compared to what Tampa pays, they’re not that cheap when compared on a regional basis.

Earlier this year, one of the smaller haul companies, Creative Concrete, sued Hillsborough County after being cited for illegal operations. A Circuit Court judge ruled in the company's favor; that led to Hillsborough County attorneys asking the County Commission to make their ordinance on garbage hauling more explicit.

But those negotiations may not be going so well.

Attorneys from both groups will make presentations to the board next week.

Jenkins from Grapple Hook Marketing says he doesn’t like some of the language being prepared. For example, he cites a provision that says that people who do construction cleanup can only do so after the job is done.

Anderson says his client really shouldn’t be part of the negotiations, but has done so in good faith.

The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners will hold a workshop on the amendments to the county’s Solid Waste Ordinance next Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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