Trash Talk opens in Hillsborough County to change waste management service

11/26/12 Janelle Irwin
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Trash services for Hillsborough County residents will get an update next October. Now county staff working on the changes are asking ratepayers for their input. Right now workers collect trash and recyclables by hand, but some new options could mean a machine does most of the work. John Lyons, director of the county’s public utilities says there are four options on the table including keeping service just the way it is.

“One of the second options we’re offering is to go to an automated system with the same level of service with two times a week trash pick up, once a week recycling and once a week yard waste. Another alternative would be to go to 1-1-1 which means that the trash collection would go down to once a week, recycling would still be once a week and the yard waste would be once a week. The fourth option would be 1-1/2-1 which means that the recycling would be picked up every two weeks, yard waste once a week and trash pick up once a week.”

Residents can attend one of five public meetings at locations across the county to talk about the changes.

“We’re beginning the public meetings next week and by Monday hope to be able to make the pricing available to everyone.”

For those who can’t make a meeting, Lyons says there are also online and telephone services available for ratepayers to get information and give their input.

“Well, we’ll pull all the information in and see what type of comments we had; see who favored what type of level of service that they want and we’ll present all that information to the board. We’ll spend the time over the end of year holidays doing that prior to the workshop in January.”

The Hillsborough County Commission has been discussing changes to trash hauling services for about a year. Currently three companies hold a monopoly over the districts they cover. But at a meeting in September commissioners voted to open a competitive bidding process to trash hauling companies across the southeastern United States. According to Lyons, that process also re-drew outdated county districts.

“Currently there are three residential trash collection districts in the county that were established back in 1996 when the contracts were originally done. Through growth and just the period of time those have become unbalanced – there’s just unequal numbers of customers in those. So, part of the new contract options are going to five districts and we’ve balanced the number of customers in those districts.”

According to Lyons six companies have submitted pricing bids to the county. Though the details won’t be released to the public until next week, Lyons said the whole process should weigh in resident’s favor.

“We believe that there will be cost savings, there will be opportunities to potentially increase recycling if we go with the automated-type system. We are definitely going with a single stream recycling process which means that instead of separating out paper from glass and metals it can all go in one bin.”

More information about possible changes is on their website. That website also has a list of public meeting locations. The first public meeting will be on Tuesday at 6:30 in the evening at the Progress Village Recreation Center. Contracts with the three current service providers expires at the end of next September.

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