Commissioners object to recycling program with municipalities

03/24/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Pinellas County intends to go with a curbside recycling program for the first time beginning next January.

But after learning how the plan would work with participating cities, the County Commission quashed a plan to share any revenues coming out of program with those cities. Currently, 21 cities in the county have their own recycling programs.

Bob Hauser, director of the Solid Waste Department for Pinellas County, says the plan will be for the unincorporated parts of the county; six cities will participate, three that currently have no program.

Commissioner Ken Welch noted the significant insertion of St. Petersburg, which rejected a request by the county last fall to participate.

Hauser irked Commissioners by saying that the county would not only subsidize cities who participate, but that if there were ever to be any revenues, those cities would share in that booty.

Commissioner Karen Seel and other commissioners were concerned. Officials said the program would cost around $8 to $10 million dollars overall.

That led Commissioner Nancy Bostock to say she was unnerved with a new $10 million program while the county struggles to cut tens of million dollars in programs because of the recession. And she said curbside recycling countywide was happening before countywide garbage collections in unincorporated areas, which didn’t make sense to her.

Welch asked why would the county pay cities anything for the service that the county is paying for?

The other way of having cities would be as part of a Net Cost model, which would be the collection of cost minus revenues.

Last Friday, the Pinellas County Commission approved resolutions for increasing efficiencies and reducing costs of Emergency Management Services. Currently, the county contracts with 19 municipalities to provide advanced life support services.

Seel worried about the recycling program falling into a similar situation. Commissioner Bostock suggested the Board revisit the idea of providing garbage services to the unincorporated portions of the county.

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